A safety syringe has a safety mechanism built into the syringe. The needle on a safety syringe can be detachable or permanently attached. On some models, a sheath is placed over the needle or the needle retracts into the barrel following injection to protect healthcare workers and others from accidental needlestick injuries. Another option is a secondary device, such as Oak Ridge Products needle capper that allows the user, with one hand, to apply a cover over the contaminated needle. The importance of the safety syringe has increased; legislation requiring it or equivalents has been introduced in many nations since needlestick injuries and re-use prevention became the focus of governments and safety bodies.


There are many types of safety syringes available on the market.[1] Auto Disable (AD) syringes are designed as a single use syringe, with an internal mechanism blocking the barrel once depressed so it cannot be depressed again. The other type of syringe with a re-use prevention feature is the breaking plunger syringe. An internal mechanism cracks the syringe when the plunger is fully depressed to prevent further use. These syringes are only effectively disabled with a full depression of the plunger; users can avoid activating the re-use prevention feature and re-use the syringe.

The more effective safety syringes have reuse and needlestick prevention features. A sheath or hood slides over the needle after the injection is completed with a Needlestick Prevention Syringe, which also has a re-use prevention feature (either an auto disable mechanism or breaking plunger). Retractable syringes use either manual or spring-loaded retraction to withdraw the needle into the barrel of the syringe. Some brands of spring-loaded syringes can have a splatter effect, where blood and fluids are sprayed off the cannula from the force of the retraction. Manual retraction syringes are generally easier to depress because there is no resistance from a spring.


Traditional glass syringes can be re-used once disinfected. Plastic body syringes have become more popular in recent years because they are disposable. Unfortunately, improper disposal methods and re-use are responsible for transferring blood borne diseases.


Of the 55 cases documented by the CDC of (non-sex work) occupational transmission of HIV, 90% were from contaminated needles that pierced the skin.[2] The direct cost of needlestick injuries was calculated in a recent study to be between $539 and $672 Million US Dollars[clarification needed].[3] That includes only lab tests, treatment, service and "other"[clarification needed]; it does not take into account lost time and wages for employers and individuals.


United StatesEdit

  • Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, effective date 2001[4]

Two lawyers, Mike Weiss and Paul Danzinger, were approached in 1998 by an inventor, Thomas Shaw, who was having trouble selling a safety syringe developed to protect health care workers from accidentally being infected by dirty needles. The problems were due to monopolistic actions of a major industry needle maker and hospital group purchasing organizations. The case was settled before trial for $150 million.[5] This was portrayed by the 2011 movie Puncture.[6] Thomas Shaw's attempts to get his retractable needle accepted by health care facilities was related in the Jul/Aug 2010 Washington Monthly article, "Dirty Medicine".[7]


  • Health Canada Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines[8]
  • Provincial Legislation:


  • No nationwide legislation is in place, but suggested practices or policies have been implemented in New South Wales,[15] Victoria,[16] and Queensland.[17]


  • The Nigerian government issued an October 1, 2012 deadline for phasing out of conventional syringes and usage of auto-disable syringes in its health institutions.[18]


  • The European Union has some regulations on this subject.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "WHO | Safe syringes for injection safety". World Health Organization. 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  2. ^ International Council of Nurses. "Health Care Worker Health and Safety: Preventing Needlestick Injury and Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens" (PDF). World Health Organization.
  3. ^ Jagger, Janine (1998). "Healthcare Direct Cost of Follow-up for Percutaneous and Mucocutaneous Exposures to At-Risk Body Fluids: Data From Two Hospitals" (PDF). Advances in Exposure Prevention. International Healthcare Worker Safety Center. 3 (3).
  4. ^ 106th Congress. "Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act". U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Syringe Manufacturer Settles Claim of Market Manipulation". The New York Times. 2004-07-03. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Puncture (2011)". IMDb. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  7. ^ Blake, Mariah. "Dirty Medicine". Washington Monthly. Retrieved Jul–Aug 2010. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines 3rd Edition 2004 – Pathogen Regulation Directorate". Public Health Agency of Canada. 2011-02-18. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  9. ^ "OHS Guidelines Part 6 Substance Specific Requirements". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  10. ^ "OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE" (PDF). Government of Alberta.
  11. ^ "The Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act (Needles in Medical Workplaces)". 2005-06-09. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  12. ^ "Labour Standards Information for the Restaurant and Foodservices Industry" (PDF). Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety.
  13. ^ "Occupational Health and Safety Act – O. Reg. 474/07". 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  14. ^ "Regulations – Safer Needles in Healthcare Workplaces". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  15. ^ "Sharps Injuries – Prevention in the NSW Public Health System" (PDF). Department of Health, NSW.
  16. ^ "OHS Reps @ Work : Infectious Diseases – Needlestick Injuries". 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  18. ^ http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=94443:govt-issues-october-1-deadline-for-conventional-syringes-phase-out-&catid=1:national&Itemid=559
  19. ^ "COUNCIL DIRECTIVE implementing the Framework Agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector concluded by HOSPEEM and EPSU" (PDF). COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.

External linksEdit

• Washington Monthly, Jul/Aug 2010, "Dirty Medicine"