It’s Your Call – June 2024

OSHA/Infection Control: Can you refuse to use a safety device for a sharp instrument on the basis that it costs too much?

By law, you must review your sharps (any device that cuts or punctures the skin) every year. Any new safety devices that have the potential to be safer than what you are using must be evaluated by the personnel who would be using it. Cost can never be the basis for not using a better device. The only reasons that OSHA would accept for not using the new device are as follows:

  • The device is more likely to cause harm to the employee.
  • Using the device for the procedure would put the patient at greater risk.

Either reason must be well documented.

sharps safety device


HIPAA: Can a subpoena be ignored if we feel it will cause harm to the patient?

A subpoena, whether it is from a judge or an attorney, can never be ignored but it can be fought. If the provider (and only the provider) feels that to release the information required would likely cause harm to someone in the provider’s professional judgement they can go before a judge and make their case.

The judge can rule in several ways:

  • The subpoena is blocked.
  • The subpoena must be answered.
  • The information will be released only to the judge.

You should consult an attorney immediately to guide you through this process. REMEMBER: An attorney representing the practice in this situation would be considered a business associate and you should sign a Business Associate Agreement with them.