Living with diabetes implies to acquire daily knowledge on it continuously and this is why it is necessary to obtain a responsible management on this disease.
To be responsible does not only implies to carry out a proper control on glucose levels, moreover person with diabetes has to be aware of other aspects like waste management of things used during the treatment, i.e., drugs and utensils like needles, strips, lancets, etc.
The Spanish Law 10/1998 on sanitary waste obliges to healthcare centers to destroy wastes that may contain blood, toxicity, etc. NEVER throw away these wastes in the organic rubbish bin and much less in the plastic container, etc. In this way, its reusing will be impossible and it will be avoided accidental shots of relatives, garbage collection workers or homeless people who rummage around in the rubbish bin, while we are going to contribute to improve the environment.
What to do with used pens or needles? Most patients will reply that the directly throw it away to a rubbish bin without being conscient that some wastes need to be treated in a special way because of their possible bad impact on the environment. Others will say that they keep them in a recipient or in a plastic bottle and once it is full they throw it away in a rubbish bin. The less common it is that they store the wastes to deliver them to a third (healthcare center, etc.).
The important point is, has the patient received any kind of information from a sanitary professional about the on waste management treatment?
Only a very small part of population will reply YES, while the 80% will say NO.
Nowadays, it is considered that waste disposition and storing habits in diabetic patients homes are deficient. It is important to promote initiatives that allow to guide to a proper practice on waste classification, storing and disposal.
Classification of waste
First of all, it is necessary to be clear that depending on the type of waste (sharp, biomedical or drug) it will be disposed or destroyed in a different way. Thus, it is mandatory to know how to classify them according to the following table:
Diabetic waste storing
Sharps Containers are used and designed to store this type of waste safely because its hard surface allows to contain isolating the residue from the outside. This containers has been created to ensure a safe disposal of the waste and its several extraction systems enable to safely dispose all type of needles and sharps, ensuring a maximum level of security for users.
Any waste containing blood is classified as biomedical waste. For example, strips used for glucose tests with a glucometer. It is considered as a biomedical waste because it is contaminated with patient’s blood and requires a special management.
It is recommended to store it separately from sharp wastes since, in contrast to the mentioned wastes before, strips have reactive and electronic components that have to be deactivated to carry out a ﬁnal effective disposal.
It is convenient to have a recipient like the one mentioned before, but use it for each type of waste.
For example: If you are an insulin pump patient you can deposit the used cannulas and infusion set (out of needles) in the same bag or container with the strips, as well as the cotton, sensors, used adhesives, because all of them are classiﬁed as biomedical waste.
The pharmacy is the axis of the life cycle of the medicine and, as such, it is the most indicated place for the collection of containers and waste destined for recycling.
SIGRE has designed and manufactured a special container to collect tins and rests of pharmacy drugs.
It is absolutely forbidden to deposit needles or sharps in them. Thus, when an used or expired insulin pen is disposed you should never disposed it with the needle.
Delivering wastes or containers
The most important part of the waste management is to close the loop. Do not allow that obstacles or barriers of current healthcare system prevent you from doing a good job in the waste management.
Take advantage of every medical appointment with the doctor or nurse to notify them your concern about a safe way to dispose biomedical wastes produced by the treatment. They are the ones who must give you the empty containers, to then be able to safely deliver the waste collected during the treatment period to the health center outside the institution.
Finally, remember that at the same time that you have the opportunity to be treated for improving your quality of life, let other people to have the same opportunity, by no throwing away wastes to a conventional rubbish bin. Looking after the environment is up to everyone.