The Senate passed legislation yesterday to protect health care workers from deadly needlestick injuries.
The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (S. 3067) was passed by the House earlier this month and will now be sent to the President.
The bill requires the use of newer, safer needles that automatically retract, cover or blunt needles after they are used.
It also requires that workers who provide direct patient care have a role in determining which safer needles to use in their workplaces, and consistent documentation of all needlestick injuries.
The bill had bipartisan sponsorship by Sens. Jeffords, R-Vt., Enzi, R-Wyo., Kennedy, D-Mass., and Reid, D-Nev.
S. 3067 was "hotlined" in the Senate yesterday in an effort to pass it quickly.
Hotlining involves a process where all Senate offices are notified of the Senate leadership''s interest in passing a bill.
Every office has a certain amount of time to let the leadership know if they have any objections with the bill.
If there are none, the bill passes by unanimous consent.
The Services Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation''s largest healthcare union, has led the fight for safer needles by winning legislation in 15 states.
SEIU said the passage of this bill will help protect health care workers from deadly needlestick injuries that can spread HIV and hepatitis C.
"This bill will save the lives of thousands of healthcare workers," said SEIU President Andrew Stern. "Today''s Senate action is a victory for health care workers nationwide."
An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick injuries occur each year. More than 1,000 of those workers contract hepatitis C or HIV.
by Virginia Sutcliffe