Health Care Worker Needlestick Prevention Act of 1999

Federal legislation would reduce the risk of bloodborne diseases from accidental needlestick injuries sustained by thousands of health care workers every year, according to Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Marge Roukema (R-NJ), who jointly introduced the Health Care Worker Needlestick Prevention Act of 1999 (HR-1899).

Here are the key points of the legislation, according to Stark:

The bill would amend the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) bloodborne pathogens standard to require all health care facilities to use needle systems and sharps with engineered protections, such as retractable needles. In carrying out the requirement, employers would work with direct health care workers who use such devices to ensure the appropriate selection of technology.

The bill would require employers to create and keep a sharps injury log containing detailed information about any sharps injuries that occur. Employers would be required to adequately train direct health care workers on the use of needleless technologies and systems with engineered sharps protections. Between 600,000 and one million health care workers suffer needlestick injuries every year; however, at the present time, there is no uniform collection of data on sharps injuries to enable those incidents to be tracked, learned from, and prevented.

The bill would establish a new clearinghouse within the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to collect data on engineered safety technology designed to help prevent the risk of needlesticks and other sharps injuries. NIOSH would have access to the sharps injury logs. In order to carry out those new tasks, the institute is authorized $15 million in new funding.

The Department of Health and Human Services would promulgate new regulations regarding conditions of participation in Medicare for those hospitals that are not covered by OSHA so that all hospitals across the country would, in effect, be covered by those new bloodborne pathogens requirements.

Safe needle technology will not be immediately, universally available, and appropriate for all uses in the health care arena. Recognizing this fact, the bill provided for an exceptions process if an employer can demonstrate circumstances in which the technology:

— does not promote employee safety;

— interferes with patient safety;

— interferes with the success of a medical procedure;

— is not commercially available in the marketplace.

[Editor’s note: For a summary of the bill, contact Congressman Pete Stark, 239 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515. Telephone: (202) 225-5065. Fax: (202) 226-3805. E-mail: petemail@stark.house.gov. Web site: www.house.gov/stark/bills.html.] n

More needleless products available on the market

The selection of needleless products is growing quickly, says Diana Meyer, RN, MSN, CCNS, CCRN, CEN, clinical nurse specialist, Emergency Services at Pomona Valley (CA) Hospital Medical Center.

"It now appears that most of the dominant vendors have products on the market," she says.

Additionally, the quality of the product is improving, Meyer adds. "For example, I recently received a brand new angiocath that blunts the end of the stylet when removed from the angio. This is a product that does not require any change in current IV start practices, so it will be much more readily accepted by practicing nurses."

Here is a partial listing of safer needle devices with contact information:

InterLink products.

These systems have an adapter that fits over IV ports. For more information, contact Baxter Healthcare Corp., One Baxter Parkway, Deerfield, IL 60015. Telephone: (800) 933-0303. Web site: www.baxter.com.

NMT Safety Syringe.

When the user fully depresses the plunger after administering the injection, the needle automatically retracts from the patient and is encapsulated within the syringe. Retraction takes place before the needle is withdrawn. For more information, contact New Medical Technology, 1500 W. Oak St., Suite 200, Zionsville, IN 46077. Telephone: (317) 733-9560. Fax: (317) 733-9563. Web site: www.new-medical-technology.com.

Protectiv catheters.

When the user inserts the retractable needles, a sheath goes over them. For more information, contact Johnson & Johnson Medical, Product Quality Services, 2500 Arbrook Boulevard, Arlington, TX 76014. Telephone: (800) 423-5850. Press 3. Fax: (817) 262-4799. Web site: www.jnjmedical.com.

Safe-1 Safety Syringe.

A safety sheath covers the needle when the user pushes a button on the syringe. It permanently locks over the needle with a twist of the sheath. The shield can also be temporarily activated before the injection for protection during transit. For more information, contact Safety 1st Medical, 1740 E. Garry Ave., Suite 108, Santa Ana, CA 92705. Telephone: (800) 997-2331. Fax: (949) 476-5559. Web site: www.safety1stmedical com.

Safe-Point.

After injection, the user slides the safety sheath forward to cover the needle until it is locked in place. For more information, contact: North American Medical Products, 3 Walker Way, Albany, NY 12205. Telephone: (800) 488-6267 or (518) 218-0402. Fax: (518) 218-0405. E-mail: namp1inc@msn.com.

Safety Glide Needle.

After injection, the user pushes the needle’s plastic shield forward with the fingertip until the shield locks over the needle tip. For more information, contact Becton Dickinson, 1 Becton Drive, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417. Telephone: (888) 237-2762 or (201) 847-6800. Fax: (201) 847-6475. Web site: www.bd.com.

Ultrasafe.

The user inserts a prefilled glass syringe or prefilled cartridge into a plastic guard. After injection, the user slides the guard over the needle into a locked position. For more information, contact Safety Syringes, 1925 Palomar Oaks Way, Suite 204, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Telephone: (877) 477-0776 or (760) 918-9908. Fax: (760) 918-0565. Web site: www.safetysyringes.com.

VanishPoint’s Automated Retraction product line.

Includes 1-cc, 3-cc, 5-cc, and 10-cc syringes and blood collection tube holder. For more information, contact Retractable Technologies, 622 S. Mill St., Lewisville, TX 75057-4632. Telephone: (888) 703-1010 or (972) 221-6644. Fax: (972) 221-9786. Web site: www.vanishpoint.com.

Walrus Needleless Systems.

These can be customized to your current system. Anesthesia induction valves, swabable sites, and pre-pierced Ys are available. For more information, contact Arrow/Walrus, 30G Commerce Way, Woburn, MA 01801. Telephone: (800) 886-6741. Fax: (781) 935-5931.