Thursday, November 03, 2005

Of India, Little Elm, and Needlestick Prevention

This just in from India:

Retractable Technologies, Inc. (AMEX:RVP) has announced that it has been awarded its second major U.S. government contract to provide VanishPoint(R) safety syringes under the Bush Administration's Global HIV/AIDS initiative (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

Under the contract, awarded in connection with Phase II of the syringe program, Retractable will supply at least 11.7 million of its patented automated retraction syringes to Haiti and seven African nations: Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

As the article notes, dirty needles used in healthcare settings is suspected of being a significant factor for transmission of HIV in Africa. That retractable needles are now being requested for the second phase of the program is hopeful news that safer practices in healthcare settings can help reduce the spread of HIV there.

But there's a bit more to the story. Retractable Technologies is a Texas-based company (Little Elm, Texas, to be exact). Their web site has some interesting information about the use of retractable needles in the prevention of needlestick injuries for healthcare workers and is worth a look.

One bit of misinformation shows up in their discussion of legislation regarding needlestick prevention. (Click the link for View legislation map.) The first thing you see is that not nearly enough states have passed any legislation regarding needlestick prevention. The second thing you might do (I did) is click the image of Texas. At that point you would see that the legislation that "passed" was HB 2085 and SB 905 in the 76th Legislative Session (1999).

Now SB 905 was a fine piece of legislation. So was it companion, HB 1646. Texas AIDS Network supported them both. But neither of them actually passed. Both made it pretty far along in the legislative process. SB 905 even got as far as the House Calendar. But, neither one of them passed.

Still, we do have needlestick protection in Texas law. How so? Thanks to the efforts of Representative Harriet Ehrhardt and Senator David Bernson and their staffs the text of SB 905 was added as an amendment to HB 2085, the reauthorization of the Texas Department of Health.

As misinformation goes, this is not big deal. However it does give me a chance to take this molehill and point you to the mountain that is Chapter 81 of the Health and Safety Code. Starting with Section 81.301 you'll find out how healthcare workers in public institutions are protected from needlestick injuries--and the risk of disease transmission--by the requirement that engineered safety devices (including retractable needles) be available.

The next question is: what about healthcare workers employed in non-public settings?

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