All Points Medical Waste Blog
At home health test kits—hazardous medical waste?
Best practices & tips for safe disposal
Today, it’s easier than ever to manage your health and test for certain conditions and diseases in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Whether you’re testing your cholesterol, your glucose, for pregnancy, for HIV or even certain DNA tests, there’s a kit available from most local drug stores. But just like needles used to inject insulin or other medications, these kits must be disposed of properly to ensure that they don’t pose a risk to others. Take a look:
Blood, urine and other bodily fluids
Because home health test kits involve collecting blood, urine and saliva, it would make sense that these items may pose a health risk to someone who accidentally comes it contact with them. Many of the kits contain different types of sharps which is a medical term for any device that has a sharp point or edge that is used to puncture or cut the skin. Examples of sharps in these home test kits include:
- Needles—hollow needles that are used to inject medication into the body
- Syringes—devices that can either be used to inject medication or take fluid out of the body
- Lancets—instruments that are commonly called “fingerstick” devices that have a two-edge blade that is used to get blood for testing
Using a home health test kit allows you to perform the test in the privacy of your own home, but once you’ve completed the test, it’s crucial to place the instrument you used in an approved sharps container. Understandably, most folks don’t have one of these in their homes, unless they are diabetic and have to inject insulin on a regular basis. Your best bet is to either make your own sharps container by using an empty plastic detergent bottle with a lid or some other heavy plastic container that you can seal. Once you’ve place the instrument in the bottle, place the lid on and tape it shut with duct tape. If not, you can take your used sharps to your doctor’s office or a local medical waste disposal company.
In addition to the sharps from your test kit, it’s important to dispose of the bodily fluid you’ve used properly—in the case of pregnancy tests, it is safe to throw them in your regular garbage as long as the urine sample doesn’t contain blood. Any test kits you use that contain blood must be safely disposed of in a red hazardous waste bag or a bag that can be sealed. Because blood can contain pathogens and bacteria that could infect others, it’s best to be responsible and ensure that you’ve disposed of it properly.
When it comes to the disposal of any medical waste materials, always err on the side of caution and if you’re not sure about what to do, ask your doctor. To learn more about many medical waste topics, visit our blog often. It’s our goal to help you stay informed so you can protect your health and the health of your family and the community.