Providers hoping for TB rule extension

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With a new federal occupational exposure to tuberculosis standard set to take effect Wednesday, providers are pressing the U.S. Department of Labor to extend postponement of its full implementation. The standard has been delayed six months thus far.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration already protects healthcare workers through its General Duty Clause, which observes stringent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the American Hospital Association pointed out to the DOL in a letter Tuesday. Reported tuberculosis incidence has never been lower in recorded history, according to the AHA. Delaying the new standard, therefore, would not harm healthcare workers, the letter noted.

Instead, the letter says, a delay would allow CDC officials and "other informed stakeholders and experts" to come to agreement on ways to "properly" evaluate scientific evidence and form a "workable" plan. Costs that would be brought on by the new standard are a core concern of the provider community.