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Letter of support From Center For Federal Legislation, "Health Care Worker Needlestick Prevention Act of 1999."



June 30, 1999

The Honorable Pete Stark
239 Cannon House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Stark:

We wish to express our support for the bipartisan Health Care Worker Needlestick Prevention Act of 1999 (H.R. 1899), which you and Congresswoman Marge Roukema introduced in the House of Representatives on May 20. We believe the protections afforded health care workers in California by the passage of A.B. 1208 in September 1998 should be available to all health care workers nationwide. We therefore strongly endorse federal legislation, modeled after the California law, that would require OSHA to amend the Bloodbome Pathogens Standard to mandate the use of safer needle technology, in order to protect all health care workers in the U.S. from needlestick injuries.

The International Health Care Worker Safety Center has been dedicated to the prevention of occupational exposures to bloodbome diseases since 1992. The Center is frequently contacted by health care workers whose lives have been devastated by needlestick injuries. In some cases, tragically, the injuries result in the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. But the most serious tragedy is that the majority of needlesticks, and the infections they cause, could be prevented by the use of safer needle devices. Although new technology for needlestick prevention has proliferated in the last 10 years, hospitals have been slow to adopt it. Since this technology has not gotten into widespread use by voluntary means, it is clear that federal legislation is now needed to adequately protect our nation's health care workers.

We commend you for your dedicated efforts to bring about a safer health care work environment that can save the lives of many health care workers. If there is anything we can do to assist in the passage of H.R. 1899 (and the companion Senate bill, S. 1140), the resources of the International Health Care Worker Safety Center are at your disposal.

Sincerely,

Janine Jagger, M.P.H., Ph.D
Center Director

Patti Tereskerz, M.S., J.D., Ph.D.
Director, Health Law and Policy

Jane Perry, M.A
Director of Communications

Melanie Bentley, B.S.
EPINet Statistical Analyst