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What does OSHA say on the use of Scalpels and Safety Needles?

Q: When OSHA insists on the use of safety needles and scalpels, isn’t it overstepping its authority by telling doctors how to practice medicine?

A: That’s not how the agency sees things.

With regard to the use of safety devices, OSHA says in an interpretation letter:

“The intent of the OSHA standard was never to usurp the practitioner’s authority in deciding the best method of achieving a positive health outcome for a patient during a procedure.

OSHA recognizes there might be unique circumstances where the safety of the patient or the integrity of a procedure might be best served with the use of a device that is not a safety device. In those situations, it is important that good work practice controls, such as eliminating hand-to-hand instrument passing in the operating room, be implemented to provide protection to employees who are at risk of getting injured by an unprotected device.”

However, the agency maintains that “practitioner preference is generally not an excuse for failure to use engineering controls.”

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