(2) Disposal of needles and needle injury. Use only sterilized syringes and
commercially presterilized disposable needles for injections. Dispose of used needles
after each appointment in the sharps container. Any injury suffered by the dental
specialist or dental officer from a contaminated needle or instrument has the potential of
introducing serious disease (see Lesson 1). Such an injury should receive prompt
medical evaluation because one cannot always know if the patient's medical history
includes an infectious disease, such as hepatitis. Each Dental Activity has a post-
exposure protocol in the standing operating procedures (SOP) that describes what
steps are to be taken after such an injury or exposure.
(3) Individual dosage. Use individual-dose anesthetic cartridges. Discard
those that are partially used. Place all used cartridges in the sharps container.
(4) Recapping needles. The dental officer may use a recapping device to
replace the cover himself, or he may slide the needle into the cap that has been placed
on the bracket table using a one-hand technique. Uncovered, used needles/syringes
should never be passed between the dental officer and the assistant.
(5) Disposable items. Use disposable saliva ejector/aspirator tips, mouth
props, and other such items when possible to minimize cross-infection and to reduce
the sterilization workload.
(6) Designated "sharps" receptacle. Discard disposable needles, suture
needles, and scalpel blades into the same designated sharp item ("sharps") receptacle.
Dispose of regulated waste according to local procedures.
2-15. DISPOSAL OF WASTES
a. Definitions. Regulated waste is defined by the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) as items that can release a drop of blood or OPIM when
compressed or items that are so heavily caked with dried blood or OPIM that the waste
may flake off. The OSHA term "regulated waste" (RW) is used for what was formerly
referred to as "infectious," "septic," or "medical" waste.
b. Regulations. The dental specialist should become familiar with local
procedures concerning the disposal of contaminated materials. Each state has its own
regulations concerning the handling and treatment of contaminated and regulated
wastes. OSHA or local/state regulations apply, whichever is more stringent.
(1) Sharp waste. Sharp disposable items, such as needles or blades, are
placed in rigid, impenetrable plastic bags or containers colored red in which sharp items
cannot break through. The container is labeled with words such as "Sharps."