Coalition Formed to Prevent Unsafe Needle Disposal

HOUSTON - Citing the improper disposal of needles, six organizations have united to issue a national call to action.

The American Medical Association, American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, American Pharmaceutical Association, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors have come together to create the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal.

"Used improperly discarded needles pose a serious risk of injury and even infection to unsuspecting workers, families and pets across the United states in their homes, workplaces and public areas," says Anne Burns of the American Pharmaceutical Association. "Current practices, regulations and resources are often incomplete, inconsistent and misleading, resulting in an unintended public safety hazard."

Americans are estimated to use more than 3 billion syringes each year to inject themselves. One out of every 12 households is estimated to use hypodermic needles and syringes. Most of these end up in the solid waste system, poses a threat to anyone who may encounter them.

"The AMA is concerned about any behavior that puts patients and the public at risk," says Patricia L. Turner, MD. "We have studied this problem carefully, and feel that we need clear guidelines for the safe disposal of needles outside the healthcare setting. This is why the AMA has agreed to participate in this important process by becoming a member of the coalition. Regulations and procedures exist in medical facilities and other workplaces handling infectious material to protect healthcare professionals and other workers from potentially dangerous needle sticks; it is time to extend a similar level of protection to individuals in their homes, neighborhoods and public facilities."

The coalition will work to educate policy makers and individuals about options available to ensure safe needle disposal.

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