Today, more than 30 million Americans live with diabetes. To effectively manage the disease, patients must regularly monitor and moderate insulin levels, often using lancets and needles to check blood sugar and administer insulin. Finding an appropriate and safe place to dispose of these sharp instruments can be difficult, particularly in public spaces.
To fully understand the challenges diabetics face and identify strategies to better support them, Stericycle recently conducted a survey, reaching out to people age 18 and older who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Three Problems with Sharps Disposal for Diabetes
The survey was designed to help uncover insights around commonalities and trends in areas like access to care and safety hazards in order to better understand and protect the diabetic community. Here are some of the things we learned.
1. Sharps disposal is inconsistent
A quarter (25%) of Americans with diabetes say one of their biggest disease management concerns is how to properly dispose of needles and lancets. Although more than 60% worry that their sharps could harm someone if not suitably disposed, nearly one in seven (14%) say they typically throw away used instruments in a trash can when they are at home. An additional 20% take used sharps home after administering insulin in public and dispose of these items in their private trash. Another 7% throw them away in a public trash can.
2. Proper public disposal options are scarce
Nearly half (42%) of survey respondents say that a lack of safe disposal containers in public spaces is the biggest challenge surrounding disposal. Almost 40% who have tossed out used needles or lancets in a public waste receptacle say they did so because there were no safe containers nearby, and they had no other choice. The prevalence of suitable disposal containers in public spaces is slim.
Even though 69% of diabetics have administered an insulin injection in public, more than half (52%) have never encountered a sharps container in a public restroom. Starbucks recently addressed public and worker safety concerns by installing sharps disposal containers in restrooms across the country following multiple cases of accidental employee needlesticks.
3. Greater sharps disposal awareness and access are needed
Despite the challenges associated with sharps disposal, nearly 30% of those surveyed have not talked with their doctor about proper methods of disposal, and therefore may not be aware of the correct processes.
In addition, if patients had ready access to appropriate disposal options, they would most likely take advantage of them. The majority (85%) of those surveyed say an at-home sharps disposal kit would help them manage their diabetes more easily, and 75% say they would use a sharps disposal container in a public space or establishment if they saw one.
Partnering to Ease the Burden of Diabetes
Stericycle is committed to helping diabetic patients better manage their disease. By partnering with us, healthcare organizations can supply patients with accessible and user-friendly disposal solutions.
Not only can this improve the safety of the process, it can also provide much-needed support for diabetic patients, reducing some of the stress and empowering them to keep themselves and their communities safe. Learn more information about Stericycle's Sharps Mailback Solutions.