• Specializes in med/surg, hospice, swing bed, ecd, schls. Has 9 years experience.

I triaged a 30-something male pt last night who had been cleaning out his families storage unit and was stuck with a dirty needle IN THE DUMPSTER when he went to throw away his trash!!! This is a small community- less than 30,000 people.... But we do have a lot of methamphetamine abusers... This pt brought in a double plastic bag that was tied at the top FULL (hundreds, some recapped, some not- all different brands) of insulin syringes with needles sticking out all over it!!! He (and I) had hoped that law inforcement might be able to have the syringes tested for HIV, HEPC, meth vs insulin, etc.... but apparently we don't have those types of services offered in the bustling state of WY. I felt really bad for him and his family... how terrifying for them! And police were anything but helpful. They stated they couldn't send needles to the state lab and that it would cost major money (out of the pts pocket) to send something to a forensics lab. So, the person(s) who did this will never be found-nor even looked for, and this gentleman has to have baseline labs, then further checks to see if he "catches" anything from the needles... There must be a better way????

Home Health Columnist / Guide


11 Articles; 17,835 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 46 years experience.
. So, the person(s) who did this will never be found-nor even looked for, and this gentleman has to have baseline labs, then further checks to see if he "catches" anything from the needles... There must be a better way????

I am unaware of any agency that would provide testing of these syringes unless police investigating as part of crime scene....single needlestick incident usually doesn't qualify.

Writing to the editor of local newpaper/TV station to educate citizens to dangers of disposing used syringes might be your best bet to prevent another ocurance.

Homecare RN's educate pts to dispose of syringes in used plastic container: laundry products usually have thickest walls to prevent penetration...2 liter soda bottle at least will provide protection most pokes. Tape top on with masking/electrical tape when 3/4 full, double bag in grocery store bags prior trash disposal and incident such as above should never happen.

Larry77, RN

1,158 Posts

Specializes in Trauma/ED. Has 10 years experience.

I just had a case the other day where a 4 yr old was stuck by a dirty needle he and his brother found on the sidewalk. The parents brought in the needle, we did our needle stick protocol (lab work etc), and I sent the sharp to the lab who was going to send it somewhere to be tested. I'm not sure the agency that does the testing or how it's billed or what but I do know that the police were not involved at all with the case.

TazziRN, RN

6,487 Posts

Your pt can be treated the same as a nurse who is stuck and the source pt refuses testing.

I am having trouble understanding how/why he got poked by needles in a bag that was already in the dumpster. Why was he touching trash in the dumpster?


38,333 Posts

A warning to all the dumpster divers out there!


186 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac/Telemetry, Hospice, Home Health. Has 6 years experience.

Fortunately the odds are in his favor. I think the latest is that the chance of becoming infected if stuck with a HIV contaminated needle are 0.3%. Also, there is a drug regimen available for post exposure to minimize (or perhaps even prevent) the onset of the virus. Still, a very scary experience I am sure.


Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

Just summizing here but my guess would be that those needles are most likely from a insulin user there in the neighborhood someplace. Yes they probly are well aware that it isnt the correct way of disposing of those but for some reason,, SOMEONE decided they didnt know what to do with them so they ended up in the dumpster. No its not right , and i would imagine a scarey situation for your patient. And i agree with the local media idea for education.

Most meth users wouldnt be using a new needle each use and they usually obtain them illegally so having a bag full isnt a high probability with an IV drug user. If for some reason they are getting needles from a clinic, i think those are exchange programs, to keep used needles off the street.

Specializes in Emergency, Trauma, Flight.

ewww.. dirty dumpster needles!!

im sure that had to be all kinds of scary for your pt..

i hope all works out ok in the long run~~



114 Posts

Specializes in ER, Outpatient PACU and School Nursing. Has 11 years experience.

yuck... :o

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