How to Safely Dispose of Needles

NeedyMeds is pleased to announce our latest partnership with SafeNeedleDisposal.org! In honor of this new partnership we are spotlighting this week’s blog post on the safe disposal of needles.

 

Needle disposal is a public health and safety issue that is commonly overlooked. The problem is that there are limited options for safe disposal of needles which leads to dangerous situations for the public – including injury and the spread of infectious disease. Additionally, information about safely disposing of syringes and needles is difficult to come by and often misunderstood. Each year “approximately 9 million syringe users will administer at least 3 billion injections outside health care facilities.” Many of these users are unaware of how to properly dispose of their needles, and “simply throw their used needles in the trash or flush them down the toilet, posing a risk of injury or potential infection from diseases such as Hepatitis B or C and HIV to anyone who encounters them.”

 

But Who is Really at Risk?

The group of people who are put in the most danger by improper needle disposal are environmental service workers – janitors, housekeepers, waste and recycling workers and sewage treatment workers. When a needle is tossed directly into the trash, it has the potential to stick whoever removes that trash. So the janitor may get stuck, the garbage-man may get stuck, and the waste-worker at the waste facility could get stuck. It is also possible for an animal to get to the needle or for it to tear through the trash bag. Any of these scenarios may ultimately expose the needle to neighbors and children.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.11.05 PMHow to Dispose of Needles Safely

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) originally recommended that “patients use a sturdy household container to store their used sharps and when that container was full, secure the lid tightly, wrap the lid in tape, write DO NOT RECYCLE on the outside of the container and throw in the household garbage.

 

However, in 2004 the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal along with the EPA released updated guidelines on how to dispose of needles safely. Each state now has their own guidelines to safely dispose of needles and other sharp medical objects.

 

All of this information is available on safeneedledisposal.info. Simply find and click on your state for more information. Many states have programs in place with multiple locations to drop off used needles. Additionally many recommend a variety of needle destruction devices that bend, break, incinerate, or otherwise destroy needles and other sharp devices. We recommend looking up your state to find out how to properly dispose of your needles. If you need any help call 1-800-643-1643 and we will get you the information!

Staying Healthy This Cold and Flu Season

Children going back to school and a cold wind starting to blow are signifiers of the impending cold and flu season. This year’s may seem particularly daunting due to exotic diseases appearing in the news and the spread of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) affecting hundreds of families throughout the United States. With all of this in mind, NeedyMeds wanted to give our readers some helpful tips to keep themselves and their children healthy, along with resources available for those in need.

Despaired patient

  1. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow. This will reduce the spread of germs through touching objects or one’s face.
  2. Wash hands often, especially after blowing your nose or coughing. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) suggests washing using warm water and soap, and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and drying with a single-use towel. Tell your children to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing—that takes about 20 seconds.
  3. Regularly disinfect common surfaces in your home that your family touches every day, including countertops, telephones, computers, faucets, and doorknobs.
  4. Ensure your family eats a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, gets plenty of rest, and exercises regularly. These steps will keep your immune system in prime shape to help fight off illness.
  5. Know the difference between a cold and the flu. The flu generally comes on strong with severe symptoms, including fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, cough, runny/stuffy nose, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and fatigue. Although colds can exhibit some of the same symptoms, they usually are not as severe and often do not last as long.
  6. It’s also important to know the difference between a cold and autumnal allergies. With the similarities in symptoms, it can be easy to self-medicate for the wrong condition.
    1. With a cold, you’re likely to wake up with a sore, painful throat. With allergies, the throat has more of an itch or tickle rather than soreness.
    2. Colds follow a relatively slow progression and last for a few days, whereas allergies can come on almost instantly, with symptoms of coughing, sneezing, and congestion striking all at once and can last as long as allergens are in the environment—sometimes a matter of hours, other times for weeks.
    3. Sneezing with itchy eyes or mouth are associated with allergies rather than colds.
    4. Fevers can appear with colds, but do not affect those suffering from allergies.
    5. It’s important to know you don’t have both a cold and allergies, as this can lead to chronic sinus problems if left untreated.
  7. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu vaccine every season. Children younger than 2 years old, or children with health problems such as asthma, diabetes, or other chronic conditions are at the highest risk of severe complications of the flu and should get the flu shot. The best way to protect infants under 6 months old is to surround them with people who have been vaccinated.
  8. Stay home from school or work if you or your child are sick.

Enterovirus D68

EV-D68 presents similarly to a cold, with runny nose, sneezing and coughing, body and muscle aches, and occasional fever. Severe symptoms can include difficulty breathing, wheezing, and worsening of asthma. State and county Departments of Health say children diagnosed with EV-D68 or any other enterovirus should be excluded from school or daycare until symptom free, or until fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication if a fever is present. Though there is risk of children catching the illness at school, the tips above should also help combat exposure to EV-D68. If you believe you or a family member may have contracted a cold, flu, or enterovirus, be sure to consult a doctor.

Finding Help

medical clinic sign

If you or your family is in need of care but lack the means to find affordable treatment, NeedyMeds has a database of over 13,000 free, low-cost, and sliding-scale medical clinics all over the country. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card can be of help for prescribed medicines, even over-the-counter decongestants or fever-reducers. The free discount card is also available as an iPhone and Android app. NeedyMeds also has information on over 1,700 coupons and rebates offered for medications or medical supplies that can be searched by category (such as Cold/Flu or Allergies) or product name.

Be on the Alert for NeedyMeds Look-Alikes

Scam_alert_homeIt’s an unfortunate reality that there are people who seek to take advantage of those in need through dishonest means. In the medical field there are those offering treatments that can be unnecessary or harmful or selling counterfeit medications. Other websites claim to offer medication assistance or information for a fee, only to take the money without fulfilling any of their promises.

Some of these sites claim to be NeedyMeds or be otherwise associated with our organization.  Don’t be deceived—NeedyMeds will never charge users for our information or access to assistance programs.

 

There are warning signs to be aware of to avoid potential scams:

  1. The program makes outlandish promises. If something appears too good to be true, it likely is. For example, a site may claim it can get you any or all your medications for free. No site can have such wide-reaching relationships with all possible pharmaceutical companies to be able to offer such services.
  2. The program asks for checking account or banking information. We at NeedyMeds never ask for such information. An easy work-around is to always use a credit card (not a debit card) when paying fees; credit card companies can help if you are ripped off.
  3. If you can’t get a real person who is kind and compassionate on the phone, there is reason to be suspicious. Fast-talking salespeople are not interested in helping you—they are interested in your money.
  4. If a program won’t answer your questions to your satisfaction, then be cautious. For example, one site declared they gave part of their profits to a non-profit but would never say which non-profit.
  5. If a program’s fees are larger than those available from competitors, it is likely they are more interested in making a profit. Be sure to shop around and research the fees commonly associated with the services you require.
  6. If a program offers no physical address, be wary. Many companies use a post office box, but they should still have a physical location.
  7. If there are concerns, check with the Better Business Bureau. This is not a guarantee that the company is legitimate, but it can be a good indicator or can make you aware of complaints against the organization.
  8. Search the program or company name online. Make note of complaints or issues other users experienced.
  9. If a program asserts that you need a company to help you apply, they are being dishonest. Most Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (PAP) applications are sent by the patients directly to the program with no assistance from any company. There are also local organizations that offer application assistance for no fee.
  10. If a program claims to possess special knowledge or can get you medications faster, remember that all the information regarding assistance programs can be found for free on our site. It’s also important to know that PAPs do not give priority to applications sent by companies.

 

NeedyMeds was founded on the idea that information on programs that can help with the cost of medication and healthcare should be available in one easy-to-navigate spot on the web—for free. Consumers can find all the information on brand name and generic name prescription patient assistance programs, free/low-cost/sliding scale clinics, diagnosis-based assistance programs, state-sponsored programs and programs that help with prescription assistance applications on our website for no charge. If you are worried about being scammed, or want to be sure that you are getting access to free information on assistance programs, call our toll-free helpline at 800-503-6897.

 

We are here to help you get the medicines you need – and we never charge to help you.

HEALfundr: The Power to HEAL

Even with recent legislation making health care more accessible, Americans still need help paying for medical expenses. Despite having insurance coverage, 10 million Americans faced bills they were unable to pay in 2013.

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When options run low and eligibility requirements for assistance can be restrictive, many are turning to online crowdfunding.

Remaining popular for creative works, crowdfunding is a tool to collect donations using the Internet towards a larger single goal. In 2012, up to 30% of all crowdfunding campaigns were for social or medically related causes. The use of social media has connected those in need with those in their own personal networks and beyond that are able to help.

 

Earlier this year, NeedyMeds launched HEALfundr to take what we saw as the next logical step in medical crowdfunding. Our unique vision is one of secure, verified campaigns that take the hassle and stress of coordinating between incoming donations and outgoing bills as well granting donors the confidence their contribution is going to an essential need.

HEALfundrThe only eligibility requirements of HEALfundr are that you have legitimate medical expenses and are a resident of the United States or its territories—there are no limits on income level or insurance status. To verify campaigns, we require a letter from a diagnosing or attending doctor. In case we have questions, we ask for a release form allowing the doctor to discuss the patient’s healthcare with HEALfundr.

Sign up and campaign-creation are completely free, with only a small processing fee applied to donations—no one ever pays out of pocket for our services. All users who create a campaign that is approved get their own personal campaign page where they can share their story, post updates, and receive words of encouragement from donors. Bills are submitted to HEALfundr and paid directly with the crowd-raised funds as they are available.

 

For more information, watch a previously recorded webinar, visit the site, or contact Project Manager Evan O’Connor.

Resources for Hemophilia

Hemophilia is a rare disease – with only about 20,000 Americans diagnosed and 400,000 people with the disease worldwide. It is a bleeding disorder, which “results when the blood’s ability to form a clot at the site of blood vessel injury is impaired.” There are two types of hemophilia – A and B. Hemophilia A is more common. According to Hemophilia.org – “Hemophilia A, also called factor VIII (FVIII) deficiency or classic hemophilia, is a genetic disorder caused by missing or defective factor VIII, a clotting protein.”  Hemophilia B on the other hand, is “caused by missing or defective factor IX” which is also a clotting protein. Hemophilia has many symptoms, that are all related in that the patient’s blood does not clot properly causing them to bleed for longer. Some of the common symptoms include: nose bleeds, prolonged bleeding from minor cuts, blood in the urine or stool, and bruising easily, among others. There are a handful of different treatment options, the most popular being replacement therapy. From the Hemophilia Federation of America, “Hemophilia is treated by injecting the missing factor protein into the affected person’s vein. The injection makes the factor immediately available in the bloodstream and the body is able to activate it to continue the clotting cascade and stop the bleeding.”

bloodstream

Finding Help

The first place to check for assistance would be the NeedyMeds Hemophilia Resource Page. On this page we list all of the programs available for Hemophilia drugs along with links to more resources and programs, along with informational links. The Patient Assistance Program listings have contact information, along with application forms, for each program. We recommend calling each program to discuss qualifications before applying.

 

42-pack81-021514-tmOn this page we also list links to a number of organizations dedicated to Hemophilia education, research, and advocacy. These organizations are:

 

In addition to the Hemophilia resource page, we also recommend checking our Hemophilia Diagnosis-Based Assistance listings. This page includes a list of programs, both national and state-specific, dedicated to hemophilia. There are currently 47 programs listed providing a variety of services including assistive technology, medical equipment, travel expenses, co-payments and more. We also recommend checking the Diagnosis-Based listings for Bleeding/Clotting Disorders, Blood Disorders, and Hemophilia Inhibitors.

 

We also have listings of over 50 camps for patients with Hemophilia. These camps are located all across the country, some are summer-camps while others run year round. There are also over 40 scholarships available specifically for students with hemophilia.

 

Know of any programs we missed? Leave us a message in the comments or send us a message at blog@needymeds.org!

 

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