American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
07/19/99

The Honorable Pete Stark
U.S. House of Representatives
239 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Stark:

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) endorses your legislation, H.R.1899, the Health Care Worker Needlestick Prevention Act, which would require employers to use safe needle technology to prevent needlestick injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 600,000 hospital-based workers are injured annually from accidental needlesticks.

Needlestick accidents are one of the leading causes of HIV and Hepatitis-B transmissions in health care workers. AACC believes that access to safer needles would reduce the likelihood that laboratorians would accidentally be infected with these deadly diseases while performing their jobs. A collaborative study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and six hospitals reported a 23 percent to 76 percent reduction in injury rates when certain safe medical devices were utilized. Other studies also indicated reductions. AACC believes this protection should be afforded to all health care workers.

In addition to requiring the use of protective needles, H.R.1899 would require employers to develop written exposure control plans to identify and select appropriate prevention technologies, create and maintain a sharps injury log and provide employees with appropriate training. We believe these are reasonable recommendations.

By way of background, AACC is the principal association of professional laboratory scientists--including MDs, PhDs and medical technologists. AACC's members develop and use chemical concepts, procedures, techniques and instrumentation in health-related investigations and work in hospitals, independent laboratories and the diagnostics industry nationwide. The AACC's objectives are to further the public interest and educational activities and to help maintain high professional standards.

If you have any questions or we may be of any assistance, please call me at (405) 271-3571 or Vince Stine, Director, Government Affairs, at (202) 835-8721.

Sincerely,

 

K. Michael Parker, PhD
President