SAFETY NEEDLES: Feds, States Consider Laws
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said yesterday the federal government may take action to require the use of safety needles to reduce health care workers' risk of dangerous needle sticks. At the same time, lawmakers in nineteen states and the District of Columbia are considering legislation on the matter. So far, bills have been introduced in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Texas and Washington. Lawmakers are drafting bills in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. To date, California is the only state to require safety needles, under legislation passed last year. Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities in the state will be required to make the switch to safer needles by August. Martha Davis, director of the Sharps Injury Control Program for California, said she has been receiving calls from across the country from people curious about how the state's law is going to work. But Bill Borwegen, health and safety director of the Service Employees International Union, said that unless a federal mandate is enacted, "each state will end up with somewhat different laws, leading to confusion, especially for manufacturers of safe-needle devices" (Carlsen/Holding, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/9).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.