Sharps containers do not contribute to C. diff transmission

Using disposable and reusable sharps containers — containers that are used to safely dispose sharp medical instruments — does not increase the risk of Clostridium difficile infection transmission, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers sampled 197 reusable sharps containers for C. diff at processing facilities. The containers had high C. diff densities to allow researchers to investigate the efficacy of automated decontamination. Additionally, they sampled 50 reusable and 50 disposable sharps containers in C. diff patient rooms in seven hospitals.

The study shows C. diff spores were found on nine of the 197 reusable sharps containers prior to processing. The automated decontamination processing completely removed the C. diff spores.

In C. diff patient rooms, 8 percent of the reusable sharps containers and 16 percent of the disposable sharps containers had secondary infection counts of C. diff.

"With C. difficile bioburden being sub-infective on both [disposable sharps containers] and [reusable sharps containers], sharps containers being no-touch and glove removal required after sharps disposal, we found two links in the chain of infection to be broken and five of seven tests of evidence to be unmet," study authors concluded.

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