New rules on reporting sharps affect all governmental entities
A law passed by the Texas Legislature in 1999 (HB 2085) directed the Texas Department of Health to write rules to increase protections for public employees from bloodborne pathogens. The rules approved by the Texas Board of Health on July 25, 2000, impose new reporting requirements for exposures to contaminated sharps and are effective September 1, 2000. The rules are similar to the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen rules that serve to protect private employees in the state. Compliance with the rules is required by January 1, 2001. This is a brief overview. For a complete copy of the new rules or a reporting form, click here. Or for more information or answers to specific questions, call Infectious Disease Control Unit at (512) 458-7676.
Q: Who is affected?
A: Health care providers who are employed by a governmental unit. The rule specifically includes emergency medical services. Private providers (or other non-government providers) are exempt from this rule because they are covered by OSHA guidelines.
Q: What do those affected need to do?
A: There are three major components of the rules. First, TDH recommends that these providers implement needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharps injury protection for employees. Any provider who feels this is an undue burden may request an annual waiver. Second, the rules require every governmental unit implement an exposure control plan. Third, TDH will compile and maintain a list of needleless system devices with engineered sharps injury protection that are available in the commercial marketplace. This web site will be linked to the TDH website above and is maintained by the TDH drugs and Medical Devices Division. There is also a provision for waiver for rural counties if the implementation would prove burdensome.
Q: Who reports the incident?
A: The chief administrative officer, or his designee of each facility no later than ten calendar days after the end of the month in which the incident occurred.
Q: Who gets the report?
A: The report goes to the local health authority, who acts as an agent for the TDH. That local authority then submits the report to the department. If there is no local health authority, the report shall be made to the TDH regional director in the region in which the facility is located. The report is then sent to the TDH Infectious Disease Division in Austin.
Q: Where can I get a reporting form?
A: Go to http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/default.asp to download a form, or get forms from TDH regional offices.
Q: What else do I need?
A: An exposure control plan as outlined at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/default.asp. Go to Exposure Control Plan. Providers should review the plan for particular requirements as applicable to their specific situation.The plan needs to be reviewed annually by an evaluation committee. At least half of the members of an evaluation committee must be health care workers who have direct contact with patients or provide services on a regular basis.
Send comments and suggestions to EMSInfo@dshs.state.tx.us.