SAFE NEEDLES: Senate Approves Bill for ‘Safer’ Medical Devices
The Senate Thursday "without dissent" passed legislation that would require hospitals and other health care facilities to consider using "safer" medical devices, such as retractable needles, to reduce the number of needle-related injuries, the AP/San Francisco Examiner reports. The bill (H.R. 5178), authored by Sens. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), cleared the House on Oct. 3 and now will head to President Clinton for approval (Zuckerbrod, AP/San Francisco Examiner, 10/26). The Senate companion measure (S. 3067) was introduced by Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) (Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee release, 10/26). According to Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, the nation's largest union of health care workers, "Today we saved the lives of thousands of health care workers, and we will soon ... see a day where no more health care workers get stuck by a needle and wonder whether it's a death sentence." The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has backed the bill (AP/San Francisco Examiner, 10/26). Touting the legislation as a "top priority," American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee said, "This is welcome news for our health care professionals. ... Safe needles save lives" (AFSCME release, 10/26). In addition to the provision mandating safer medical devices, the bill also would force health facilities to consult workers to determine which safety devices they should use in different situations and to maintain a record of all needle-related injuries (AP/San Francisco Examiner, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.