Question Video: Placement of Disposable Needles Chemistry

Where should a disposable needle never be inserted during normal use? [A] Cork ring [B] Rubber septum [C] Sharps bin [D] Original sheath [E] rubber bung


Video Transcript

Where should a disposable needle never be inserted during normal use? A) Cork ring. B) Rubber septum. C) Sharps bin. D) Original sheath. Or E) rubber bung.

Needle stick injuries are one of the most common accidents in a laboratory. They can be fairly minor if the needle is clean. But if the needle is contaminated, it could cause all kinds of hazards. This is why good needle technique and safety are so important. This question is asking us where we should never put a disposable needle. This means that, in our list of answers, four of the items are probably appropriate and one is definitely not. Let’s work our way down the list.

Cork rings are familiar sites in the laboratory. They’re often used to hold flasks. The question is, is it safe to insert a disposable needle into a cork ring? How can we work out whether this is a safe process? Let’s consider why we might insert a needle into a cork ring. Once the needle comes out of the packet, it should be attached directly to the syringe that you’re going to work with. It should never be removed from the syringe until you are ready to dispose of the needle. And when you do this, it should not be done with your other hand, as you risk a needle stick.

Let’s first ask ourselves, is it necessary? It could be that you’re in the middle of using your needle and syringe. And you need to use both hands for something else. One of the worst things you can do with your needle is simply lay it down onto the bench or in the fume hood. This causes a significant risk of needle stick injury, both to yourself and your colleagues. So it is necessary to insert the needle into something safe. The next question is whether it can be done one handed. It’s always easiest if you can insert your needle into something that doesn’t mean you have to have your other hand nearby. This reduces the risk of a needle stick incident.

The next question is whether the needle will be secure in whatever you’ve inserted it into. Cork rings are pretty steady, so it’s probably safe to say that if you insert a needle, it will be secure. So a cork ring seems like an appropriate place to insert a needle. This means It is not the correct answer. So let’s move onto the next one. A rubber septum. Rubber septums are often used to seal flasks. The question is whether it’s safe to insert a disposable needle into one of these rubber septums. In fact, this is a fairly common procedure in laboratories, where there are air-sensitive reactions, for example. The rubber septum is designed so that it can have needles inserted multiple times. The usual safety guidance still applies, of course. So this is not somewhere you should never insert a needle.

Let’s move on to the sharps bin. If you are using disposable needles in the laboratory, you should always have a suitable sharps bin. When using needles, your sharps bin should always being nearby. You should also never fill your sharp’s been more than three quarters full. Once it gets this full, the lid should be carefully sealed and the sharps bin disposed off correctly. When using a sharps bin correctly, you should never remove the syringe from the needle that you’re using or manipulate the needle, like bending it before you need to dispose of it. Many sharps bins will have a special slot, where you can insert the needle, sharpened first, into the bin, slide it into the slot and pull back with the syringe, thus removing the needle without using your hands. If this isn’t the case, it’s definitely advisable to have the sharp end of the needle inside the sharps bin before removal.

So disposal needles definitely should be inserted into sharps bins as soon as you’re done with them. So this is not the correct answer. Let’s move on to the original sheath. When you get a disposable needle out of the packet, it comes with a plastic protective sheath over the sharp part of the needle. The easiest and safest thing to do is to insert the syringe into the needle before you remove the protective sheath. Once you’re ready to use the needle, the sheath can be removed.

The question is, is it appropriate to put this protective sheath back on the needle? Is this a safe procedure? If we think back to keeping our other hand out of the way of the sharp part the needle, we can see that holding a very small sheath and trying to insert a sharp needle into it is not a safe procedure. Recapping your needle is one of the easiest ways to get a needle stick injury. The advice is that this should never be undertaken. If you need to put the needle down for any reason. There are many other places that it can be inserted, which don’t involve such close contact with your other hand. So this is definitely a correct answer to this question.

Finally, we come to the rubber bung. Is it safe and appropriate to insert a needle into a rubber bung? If we think back to the cork ring, we can see that a rubber bung is very similar. It doesn’t necessarily have to be done with both hands. And It’s a secure place to store a needle. So if you do have to put the needle down, a rubber bung is an acceptable place to insert it. This means it is not a correct answer to this question.

So a disposable needle should never be inserted back into its original protective sheath. If you do have to put it down for any reason, never lay it on the bench or in your fume hood. Always insert the sharp end into something secure, like a cork ring, a rubber septum, or a rubber bung. And as soon as you finished with the needle, dispose of it carefully in a sharps bin.

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