Ask the expert: Mercury devices in medical practices

By: January 18th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Is it illegal to have mercury thermometers and blood pressure devices in medical practices?

A: To my knowledge there is no federal or state-wide prohibition against using mercury devices in healthcare, only a memorandum of agreement between the EPA and the AHA to eliminate mercury eventually from healthcare settings.

Mercury device laws are state-specific, and there may be some that prohibit or limit the new purchase of mercury devices. Click here for the EPA mercury state legislation and regulations Web page.

That being said, it is a good idea to eliminate mercury devices from your practice. Eliminating Mercury in Hospitals makes a good argument for this position based on clinical, safety, and economic reasons. Also, see Notes from the field: “A mercury spill–OH NO!” to see what it is like to deal with a mercury spill in a physician’s practice.

The OSHA Healthcare Advisor tools page has a Mercury Elimination Checklist to get you started.

Other good sources on the elimination of mercury in healthcare settings and mercury spill response are:

 

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