SAFETY NEEDLES: Congress May Require Use at Hospitals
The House is expected to vote this week on a bill that would require hospitals to use safety needles, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Sponsored by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.), the bill (HR 5178) is aimed at protecting 10 million hospital workers from needle injuries, which result in about 1,000 serious infections, usually hepatitis C and HIV, annually. The safety needles retract or blunt their points after use and cost about 33 cents each, as compared to standard needles, which cost about 10 cents each. Injuries from needles cost about $3,000 each for treatment and follow-up exams, totaling about $1.8 billion each year. The American Hospital Association and the Service Employees International Union are backing the legislation, which has bipartisan support. Registered nurse Ellen Dayton, who contracted hepatitis C and HIV after a needlestick injury at San Francisco General Hospital, said, "This bill could prevent this from happening to other people. ... It really could mean saving a lot of people's lives." The only opposition to the legislation is time, as Congress is in its "last minute crush" of finishing business before adjourning, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Malone, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/2).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.