In addition to doing mock OSHA Inspections, I provide annual OSHA training to physicians and their staff. Last week I was in an office that did not have any safety needles, lancets, or scalpels.
As a part of my training, I talked about using safety devices. I reminded them that OSHA has required using safer sharps since July 18, 2001. This physician was very aware of the requirements, but had never purchased safety devices or requested samples from his vendors. I talked about exploring safety devices, doing an evaluation, and implementing safety devices that the staff and physician agreed would provide the best protection against injuries.
The physician was sitting beside me and said in a loud voice that he did not get additional reimbursement to cover these devices, and therefore had no intention of buying them. He said they were just “too expensive!” I leaned over and told him that I would like speak to him privately after the class. He just wouldn’t stop expressing how he couldn’t afford to buy the safety needles. His nurse spoke up and said she had been asking him for years to order safety lancets for fingersticks. I finally offered to contact a vender to drop off samples of safety needles and lancets for the staff to evaluate.
After the training class, the nurse came up to me and said she was thinking about calling OSHA on her “boss”. I encouraged her to try the safety devices that were being ordered and I told her I would talk to the physician.
I informed him how upset his nurse was and how very expensive OSHA fines were. Cost cannot be a factor for refusing to implement safety needles. I reminded him that how costly and life threatening a needlestick injury could be if his staff contracted hepatitis or HIV.
I finally convinced him to follow through with the vendor and do an evaluation and order safety devices ASAP. He will be very lucky if OSHA doesn’t stop by for an inspection. A serious employee complaint will usually bring them to your office.