Every needle programme worker and every person who injects comes across them at some point, a needle that is either blunt or barbed before it’s ever used.
But what should you do about it?
Last week NBC News reported the recall of two million faulty syringes. This happens from time to time. When it does, needle providers are sent recall documents explaining which needles are faulty, how they’re faulty and how to send them back.
Faults are never a good thing in a product, but in the case of injecting equipment faults can cause real damage to people. It may be that the fault is just something that affects the way a plunger moves, but it can often be a fault with the needle itself. The last set of faulty needles I came across had barbed ends for instance. (As I’m sure you know, barbed needles increase the damage done to a vein – causing it to be torn rather than punctured.)
So you’re someone who injects and you’re about to have a shot and you notice, hopefully before you inject, that the needle is barbed. What should you do?
If you’re checking the sharpness of a needle you intend to inject with just use your eyes, DON’T check it by running it over your finger or clothing; this just adds bacteria and so increases your risks of getting an abscess.
Always check equipment for broken seals, if the packaging is torn/damaged then the equipment inside it is no longer sterile. You can take extra steps to prevent this happening, think about the way to transport equipment home. Are you someone who puts needles in a bag, or do you tightly bundle them and ram them into a pocket?
Faulty equipment shouldn’t just be ignored, and if it’s more than just a single item it should always be reported and taken seriously. And this doesn’t just mean needles but all equipment.
If it’s faulty report it.