NEEDLE SAFETY: Sen. Reid Proposes Safe Needle Standards
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), heeding "a growing political movement at the state and local level," introduced legislation Friday to require the use of safer hypodermic needles in public hospitals nationwide. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Reid's measure "would require hospitals serving veterans and Medicare patients to use needles that better protect health care workers from needle stick injuries." The bill, which awaits review by the Senate Finance Committee, "closely matches" legislation introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) last October, currently pending in the House Ways and Means and Veterans committees. The measures, both "dubbed the 'Health Care Worker Protection Act,' also call for $5 million for needle safety training," the Chronicle reports. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American health care workers report more than 800,000 needle sticks ... each year," Reid said, adding, "(This bill) is designed to reduce the risks to health care workers from these accidents." The Chronicle reports that "thousands of needle stick victims contract HIV, hepatitis C and other lethal infections every year" despite the fact that needles with "simple safety features" to prevent accidental pricks have existed for at least ten years. Few of these safe needles "have reached health care workers," the Chronicle found, "because it is more profitable for manufacturers to sell conventional designs and less costly for medical facilities to buy them" (Lynch, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.