SAFETY NEEDLES: Senate Must Pass Bill Quickly
Noting that the "stakes are too high for further delays" in passing a federal needle safety law, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial urges the Senate to pass a bill that would update OSHA standards requiring medical facilities to use safety syringes. While the House this week passed legislation (HR 5178) requiring hospitals and other health care facilities to use needles that "are self-blunting or automatically cover needle points after use," the editorial notes that the Senate is now considering an "identical" companion bill. The editorial asserts that "time is running out and it is feared that the Senate bill could get lost in the shuffle during the legislative scramble to pass last-minute spending measures." If the Senate does not act on the bill, the editorial points out that it would have to be re-introduced in both chambers next year, adding that such a delay could expose health care workers "at every level" to needle sticks that could transmit diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. As the bill has both bipartisan support and President Clinton's pledge to sign it into law, the editorial maintains that the "Senate should take emergency action -- even a call for 'unanimous consent' from all 100 senators -- to speed the bill on its way to becoming law" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/5).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.