SAN FRANCISCO: Coroner Ordered To Stop Reusing Needles
"City and state officials demanded Friday that the San Francisco medical examiner's office stop forcing its workers to reuse disposable needles capable of transmitting lethal diseases through accidental needle sticks," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Dr. Boyd Stephens, the chief medical examiner, mandated that his employees recycle disposable needles used on cadavers, in an effort to save budget money. Furthermore, he maintained that "reusing disposable needles is safe and legal and that state safety regulators had never ordered him to stop." However, the Chronicle notes that on Sept. 27, 1997, the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration warned Stephens to correct his needle policy as well as 10 other "serious" violations. State Assemblyperson Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) said, "It's really an outrage. It defies standards of decency, logic and responsible medical practice." Kandace Bender, assistant to Mayor Willie Brown said, "The mayor said we cannot have workers endangered at any cost." San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano "said he would ask the Board of Supervisors on Monday to require an explanation from" Stephens. "This practice is endangering people unnecessarily," he said. Ammiano said that the budget contained plenty of room for Stephens to purchase new needles. "I want him to use the $10,000 immediately and explain why it was not done before," he added. Ammiano has also "proposed an ordinance that would require all city departments and health care employers with city contracts to give employees safer needles designed to protect against accidental injuries" (Holding, 5/9).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.