Thursday, May 08, 2003

2 Big Hospital Buying Groups Settle Lawsuit by Needle Maker

Some answers to the question about why it took so long for many hospitals to adopt safer needle technologies – and why we need regulations and the courts
A small Texas company settled a federal antitrust lawsuit yesterday that accused the nation's two dominant hospital buying groups, Premier and Novation, of preventing the sale of its hypodermic needles to many hospitals.

The company, Retractable Technologies, which figured prominently in the fight to reform hospital buying groups, said the terms of the settlement were confidential but that it included cash payments, as well as provisions to make it easier for the company to sell its needles in thousands of hospitals in the United States.

Retractable said its product helps prevent accidental needle sticks among health care workers and that Premier and Novation had essentially blocked its sale to many hospitals. Premier and Novation negotiate supply contracts worth about $35 billion a year on behalf of nearly two-thirds of the country's hospitals.
In New York, for example, Premier and Becton, Dickinson were recently named in a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by a group of resident doctors at Montefiore Medical Center, based in the Bronx.

The residents gave OSHA data they had compiled that showed what appeared to be a rise in the number of needle-stick injuries at Montefiore over the last two years. They said hospital officials did not take "appropriate action."

The residents also asked OSHA to investigate whether Montefiore's membership in Premier was behind its widespread continued use of traditional needles, which have no safety features. The agency has begun an investigation