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Reusing Phlebotomy Barrels

Q: We heard about an OSHA citation for reusing the plastic barrel that holds phlebotomy tubes. This is confusing since we use a sharps container with a built-in needle remover and so does every other medical practice that we know of. Is reusing the plastic barrel an OSHA violation?

A: According to a high level OSHA spokesperson, it is. The issue is not reusing the plastic barrels, but the removal of the needle from the barrel. Even though special sharps containers exist for this purpose, the bloodborne pathogens standard specifically prohibits "bending, breaking, recapping, or removing" needles. OSHA is expected to issue a guidance document in the near future to specify this, since most labs, hospitals, and medical practices are out of compliance with this requirement. We will discuss this in depth in a future issue of OSHAWatch newsletter.

Need help with OSHA compliance? Ask Dr. Dunn or browse our helpful osha manuals & compliance programs.

Posted by Quality America on December 30, 2005 | Comments (2)


Are we required to use retracting or self-shielding needles during routine venipuncture? We are using conventional multi-draw needles but disposing of the adapters with needle attached in sharps containers. We have evaluated other SESIP\'s and are not comfortable with any that are available. Does our procedure meet the OSHA requirements? I appreciate
your help with this matter.

Posted by: Mardell Wood, MT(ASCP) at November 1, 2006 12:30 PM

Yes, you're required to use safety needles for venipuncture. You are correct about disposing the adaptors, but you also need to find a safety needle that works for your staff. The only valid excuse for not using a safety sharp is if "it's not commercially available" or "it interferes with the procedure". There are several varieties of "safe" phlebotomy needles on the market and
most medical facilities have switched, so OSHA inspectors would generally not believe that "it interferes with the procedure".

Have you seen the new self-sheathing phlebotomy needle? I just saw it for the first time and it looks good on paper. Check out the company's Web site at: http://www.devonmedicalsupplies.com/ The product is called Sharp Shield...we haven't tried it, but it looks promising.

I hope this helps, Mardell. If not, please tell us why your staff didn't like the available safety sharps for phlebotomy. I may have missed a "valid"

Posted by: Sheila Dunn at November 1, 2006 12:33 PM

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