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Surgical Technologist Bill Vetoed Again

Publish Date: October 8, 2014

This year California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed 930 bills and vetoed 143 bills, with hundreds of those bills being addressed close to the midnight signing deadline on Tuesday, September 30, 2014. One of the vetoed bills was Assembly Bill 2062, authored and introduced by Assembly Member Roger Hernández (D). The California State Council of Service Employees International Union sponsored the bill. According to the last Assembly bill analysis, surgical technologists are the only member of the surgical team with no mandated minimum level of education, training, or certification, and Hernández was attempting to fill that gap.

Assembly Bill 2062, with certain exceptions, would have prohibited a health facility from employing or contracting with an individual to practice surgical technology unless the individual successfully completed:

  • A surgical technology educational program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or by an organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation of the United States Department of Education; or a training program for surgical technology provided by the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Public Health Service. 
  • In addition, the individual would have had to hold and maintain certification as a surgical technologist by a credentialing organization with a surgical technologist certification program that is accredited by either the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or the American National Standards Institute or provide evidence that the individual was employed to practice surgical technology in a health facility at any time prior to January 1, 2015 and complete continuing education necessary to maintain a certification. 

Approximately 9,000 surgical technologists work in California. The bill would have grandfathered in current surgical technologists and given new graduates up to a year to achieve certification. Surgical technologists would have provided patient care at the direction of, or subject to supervision by, a physician and surgeon or registered nurse.

Governor Brown chose to not sign the bill on September 30. In his veto letter, Brown expressed concern that a new certification requirement enforced by hospitals could introduce an unnecessary barrier to employment. In addition, he noted he vetoed a similar bill in 2012. The Governor’s veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each chamber. 

AORN is supportive of education and certification requirements for surgical technologists, but believes that any codification of the surgical technologist functions under state law, including specifically within a certification bill, should be clear that the surgical technologist performing in the scrub role functions under the delegated authority and direct supervision of the registered nurse circulator in the room. AORN will continue to monitor these developments across the states. 

AORN’s Government Affairs team will continue to monitor this bill and provide an update if the veto is overridden.