SAFETY NEEDLES: Final Regulations OKd by State Board
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board gave final, unanimous approval yesterday to groundbreaking regulations requiring the use of safety needles by health care workers. The new rules, which take effect July 1, will cost employers an estimated $166 million a year in direct costs. However, because hospitals will save at least $262 million due to decreased treatment and testing costs, a net gain of $95 million is expected. Board Chair Jere Ingram said, "This is a watershed point. Health care workers and their safety have been somewhat neglected in the past." Assemblywoman Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), who championed the measure, said the new regulations represented "one of the few 100% satisfying moments in my political career. ... How can you not be for safety needles? The issue invited universal support." Some health care workers are worried that hospitals are lagging behind in rolling out the new needles, and are unlikely to meet the July 1 deadline. They also complain that facilities "are choosing the cheapest safety needles, not the best, and that training with the new devices has been lacking." Migden said, "In fairness, this is brand-new, and it happened pretty fast."
Kaiser Takes it National
Kaiser Permanente announced this week that it will expand the use of safety needles to its hospitals nationwide, as part of a $30 million, three-year agreement with needle manufacturer Becton Dickinson (Carlsen, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/18).