JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Medical waste and needles were found in a hospital parking lot and gas station bathroom in Jacksonville.
A woman told News4Jax that she had just stepped out of Baptist Medical Center South in Bartram Park and into the parking lot when she stumbled upon a Vacutainer, a device that medical professionals use to draw blood.
"The little tubing, you can still see someone's blood in it," said Erin, the woman who found the Vacutainer on Monday when she visited her mother in the hospital. "Of course, I was shocked."
A Baptist Health spokeswoman sent News4Jax the following statement on Tuesday:
To say where the vacutainer came from would be pure speculation on our part. We don’t alert police to the discovery of one random item like this, but we do take these reports seriously.
"All medical waste must be handled with extreme care. To ensure the safety of our patients and their families, Baptist Health facilities have policies in place detailing the proper disposal of any device used to draw blood -- regardless of whether or not it contains a needle. Accordingly, we take every precaution to be sure that team members who work closely with biological waste are appropriately trained, informed of these policies and aware of the locations of designated disposal canisters."
Erin said finding similar types of abandoned items is becoming too common.
"I see this kind of stuff all the time," she said. "Not so much the medical waste as far as that particular type, but there's constantly hypodermic needles and it's just crazy."
Needles were also found inside a gas station about 10 minutes away from the hospital.
News4Jax received a photo showing three needles that had been left inside a Circle K bathroom near the Avenues Mall.
"I think it's really unsanitary," concerned resident Ashton McLeod said. "You're just wondering why that's in there."
Circle K could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Health in Duval County wasn't able to identify what types of needles were seen in that photo. But health officials advised anyone who finds a needle to notify authorities.
They added that, if you have a sharps container, which is used for disposing of needles, you can put the needle in the box, but you should wear gloves and use tongs or plies, and never touch the needle.
“Security guards or parking lot attendants need to be making sweeps and walks-through to make sure that sort of stuff isn’t around," Erin said.
She said that, if she had not have noticed the discarded medical waste, she could have ended up in the hospital alongside her mother.