Recapping a needle is extremely dangerous, and healthcare workers such as nurses should avoid recapping. Instead, needles should be disposed of in an appropriate sharps container, and healthcare workers should use needle safety devices when handling or disposing of sharps per their healthcare facility’s protocols.
Some of the risks of a needle-stick injury include pain and/or bleeding, contamination with medication in the needle, and the risk of an infection with a bloodborne pathogen such as HIV or hepatitis.
Nevertheless, there may be cases in which recapping a needle is necessary in healthcare, and in those situations, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and WHO (World Health Organization) recommend using needle safety devices or a method such as the one-hand scoop technique to reduce the risk of a needle-stick injury.
As always, protocols can vary per location and are subject to change over time, so it’s important to follow the latest protocols in your area for sharps safety.
One-Hand Scoop Technique to Recap Needles
When using the one-hand scoop technique to recap a needle, the idea is to prevent a needle stick by preventing contact with the unsheathed needle. You never want to use both hands to try to place the cap onto the needle, as this greatly increases the risk of a needle-stick injury, as you can see below.
Instead, the one-hand scoop technique can be used by using one hand to “scoop” the needle into cap. Here are some tips for using the one-hand scoop technique for needle recapping:
1. Before attempting to recap a needle using the one-hand scoop method, make sure the cap is on a secure surface, positioned away from the patient, yourself, and coworkers. I prefer to leave my cap on top of its package for easy access.
2. Hold the syringe by the barrel with your dominant hand, and place your non-dominant hand by your side, away from the needle tip.
3. Slowly move the needle into its cap as far as you can get it.
4. Rotate the syringe up in a scooping motion so that the needle ends by pointing upward, allowing gravity to settle the cap down onto the device.
5. Snap the cap back onto the device by using two fingers from your non-dominant hand to grasp the cap at its base (if guidelines permit), and then pull it down to secure it.  Alternatively, OSHA dictates snapping the cap onto the syringe by pressing it against a hard surface without using the other hand to secure it. 
6. Once the cap has been snapped on, you can proceed to remove and/or dispose of the needle in a sharps container per your healthcare facility’s protocol.
- OSHA Factsheet. (2011). Protecting Yourself When Handling Contaminated Sharps. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/bbfact02.pdf
- WHO. Best Practices for Injections and Related Procedures Toolkit. (2010). World Health Organization. doi:https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44298/9789241599252_eng.pdf;jsessionid=4A9D8F57FDB724AC1237419FD4FD6A0A?sequence=1