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AORN Comments On WA Surgical Technologist Bill

Publish Date: February 2, 2015

S. 5049, a bill requiring registered surgical technologists to submit evidence of (a) successful completion of a nationally and programmatically accredited surgical technologist program, (b) successful completion of a surgical technology program offered by the United States armed forces, or (c) performance of surgical technology functions in a hospital or ASC for at least one year in the five preceding years, was read and referred to the Senate Health Care Committee on January 12. Currently, surgical technologists in Washington are required to register with the State, but there are no accompanying educational requirements.

S. 5049 was scheduled for a public hearing on January 29. Less than two days before the scheduled public hearing, the sponsor, Senator Angel, brought forth a proposed substitute, S. 0871. The proposed substitute is very similar to S. 5049, but omitted certain changes to the definition of surgical technologist that had been included in the earlier S. 5049.

AORN is supportive of education requirements for surgical technologists, but believes that any codification of the surgical technologist functions under state law, including specifically within a certification, registration, or education 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. Therefore, AORN provided comments to the Senate sponsor and Health Care Committee encouraging them to include language in the bill confirming that the surgical technologist is under the direct supervision of a licensed health care practitioner who is present in the operating room.

Additionally, in the interest of patient safety, AORN member Melanie Burton, President-Elect of the Washington State Council of Perioperative Nurses, testified at the public hearing on January 29 about the importance of Washington using the bill to align with RN supervision requirements in CMS regulations and current best practices in operating rooms.

AORN will continue to monitor this bill. If you have any questions about this bill or legislation in your state, please contact AORN Government Affairs Associate, Danielle Glover.