As the UK starts to shiver and snow falls, there is one aspect that impacts on clinical waste management and safety.
Discarded sharps, usually a consequence of IV drug abuse, are easily lost in leaf litter or rubbish, in long grass, in sand or in snow. This presents additional risks as children and others stumble upon or walk barefoot over used sharps while innocently playing in the park or on the beach.
No such problem with needles lost in the snow, but this prematurely seasonal covering does create additional risks. It is great fun for children to play outside in the snow and there is every possibility that if there is an unsheathed needle lying in the snow they may fall onto it. More serious is the accumulation of discarded sharps and other drug littering snow – the longer the snow lasts, the more that can be found but it is difficult, if not impossible, to clear these once covered.
Local authorities and others must be aware of needle ‘hot-spots’ and ensure that these are checked as soon as the snow melts since many needles may unexpectedly come to the surface.