Mass. Passes Needlestick Injury Prevention Bill

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill last week to protect\r\nthe state's health care workers from needlestick injuries.

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill last week to protect the state''s health care workers from needlestick injuries that can lead to exposure to serious bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C.

The bill, "An Act Relative to Needlestick Injury Prevention," was filed by Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) and sponsored by state Rep. Christine Canavan, D-Brockton.

The measure was enacted by the house Aug. 3 and now moves to Gov. Paul Cellucci''s desk for signature before becoming law.

The bill was introduced at a Health Care Committee public hearing when MNA President Karen Daley -- a needlestick injury victim -- provided wrenching testimony of her ordeal and its impact on her life.

She contracted HIV and Hepatitis C from a needlestick injury on the job.

As a result of Daley''s testimony, the bill quickly moved to the House Ways and Means Committee where it was estimated that the cost of implementing the bill would be $175,000.

Daley said the cost is negligible in comparison with the cost of managing one needlestick exposure and the cost of medical treatment that often follows.

"My injury didn''t occur because I was careless or distracted or not paying attention to what I was doing," said Daley. "This injury and the life-threatening consequences I am now suffering should not have happened. And worst of all, this injury did not have to happen and would not have happened if a safer needle box system had been in place in my work setting."

According to MNA, legislation is needed because overall the health care industry has not provided the devices that would make the work environment safer for nurses and others.

With the passage of this bill, Massachusetts would become the 18th state to pass needlestick injury prevention in the past two years.

The bill is crafted to mandate that engineering controls to needlestick and sharps instruments be used in the delivery of health care. It also will increase participation in Hepatitis B immunization programs.

Employers would be required to do the following:

  • make the devices available wherever feasible;
  • include sharps injury prevention technology as an engineering practice in the workplace;
  • develop a written exposure control plan;
  • develop and implement an exposure incident log, which would record the type and brand of device involved; and
  • update their exposure control plan to reflect progress in implementing the sharp prevention technology specified by the Department of Public Health.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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