NEEDLE STICKS: ‘Well-Intended’ Law Frustrates Dentists
California's "well-intended" law that mandates the use of safety needles could "actually lead to more injuries to dental care workers," says California Dental Association President Dr. Gene Welling. Writing an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Welling laments that even though "there has not been a single documented case of disease transmission through the instruments and needles used in dental offices," dentists are nonetheless being held to the same standards as other health professionals. The use of safety needles in dentistry has not been explored sufficiently, and early studies indicate that the precautions are not warranted, he says. Pointing to a recent study published in the California Dental Association Journal, Welling says that in a clinical setting, the "injury rate while using safety needles was three times greater than with traditional needles." One problem he singled out is that a patient's breath can fog the needle's protective sheath, making it difficult to discern its contents. The end result, he notes, is that more mistakes were made and there was an increased need for reinjection. He concludes that more than 14,000 dental offices in the state "are being told to comply with the requirements of a law whose benefit to them is dubious at best" (8/13).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.