C2018-36

Dear Christopher Cat: My cat has chronic kidney disease, so I inject sterile fluids under her skin using a fluid bag suspended from above, a drip line from the bag, and a hypodermic needle. When finished, I recap the used needle, remove it from the line, and replace it with a sterile needle for the following day’s treatment.

Today I accidentally stuck myself when I recapped the needle. How can I prevent this in the future?

Christopher Responds: As you learned the hard way, you should never recap a needle using both hands. Here are several safer techniques:

  •  Check the sharps container where you dispose of your used needles. Many have built-in needle removers that don’t require you to recap your needle.
  • Hold the fluid line in one hand, and use small needle-nose pliers in your other hand to grasp the needle hub, remove the needle and deposit it in your sharps container.
  • Use the one-handed technique: Lay the needle cap on its side near a solid object, such as the back of the counter. Push the needle into the cap until it clicks into place. Then twist the capped needle off the fluid line.
  • Buy an inexpensive needle removal station that holds the cap firmly, open end up. Insert the needle into the cap until it clicks into place, and then proceed as above.