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New Jersey Governor Signs Surgical Technologist Bill

Publish Date: January 10, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed Assembly bill 3946 which sets forth minimum requirements for employment as a surgical technologist in New Jersey hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. New Jersey perioperative nurses need to take action now to make sure their facilities have appropriate supervision policies and procedures in place for surgical technologists working in New Jersey operating rooms.

Under the new law, effective December 20, 2011, persons working as surgical technologists in New Jersey health care facilities must meet one of the following requirements:

(a) have successfully completed a nationally or regionally accredited educational program for surgical technologists;
(b) holds and maintain a certified surgical technologist credential administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or its successor, or other nationally recognized credentialing organization;
(c) have completed an appropriate training program for surgical technology in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States or in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps;
(d) be employed as a surgical technologist in a health care facility as of December 20, 2011; or
(e) be in the service of the federal government, to the extent that individual is performing surgical technology duties related to that service.

The law prohibits health care facilities from employing or otherwise contracting with surgical technologists that do not meet one of the requirements listed above.

In addition, effective December 20, 2012, surgical technologists must complete 15 hours of continuing education annually. New Jersey health care facilities are responsible for verifying that their surgical technologists are qualified to work in New Jersey under the new law and, in the future, for verifying that their surgical technologists are meeting the continuing education requirements in the law.

The New Jersey law is silent on supervision of surgical technologists in New Jersey operating rooms. AORN policy on this topic is consistent with the Medicare Conditions of Participation for Hospitals, which provide that surgical technologists serving in the scrub role as scrub nurses do so under the supervision of a registered nurse. The perioperative RN is responsible for coordinating care, including delegated technical functions under his or her direct supervision to unlicensed individuals based on the individual’s level of training and competency.

New Jersey perioperative nurses must work within their facility to implement appropriate policies and procedures are in place concerning surgical technologists. Facility policies need to ensure the registered nurse circulator’s supervisory authority over the surgical technologists, and should make it clear that the surgical technologist works under the supervision of the registered nurse circulator in the room.

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