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Nebraska Rejects Surgical Technologist Licensure Proposal

Publish Date: February 16, 2016

On February 5, 2016, Nebraska’s Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Health and Human Services formally recommended to the Nebraska Legislature that the state not pursue licensure for surgical technologists. The February 5 Report is the result of a credentialing review process which examined a Nebraska Association of Surgical Technologist’s proposal to the state for licensure.

Like many states, Nebraska has a statutory requirement for health professions seeking credentialing or regulatory change to submit to a review by the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health. The process involves initial review by a technical review committee, review by the Board of Health’s Credentialing Review Committee, and review by the full Board of Health. Both the Credentialing Review Committee and the full Board of Health recommended against the proposal for licensure, citing concerns that a licensure requirement for the state’s surgical technologists could result in a decline in access to services, particularly in rural areas, also noting that that NE-AST provided no evidence of potential harm to the public from the current lack of regulation. No other state licenses surgical technologists, and the Board of Health expressed concern about the adverse impact a licensure requirement would have on the employment situation for surgical technologists in the state.

In lieu of licensure, the Board of Health indicated support for a registry for surgical technologists, consistent with its November 16, 2015 Report recommending a registry and competency assessment for surgical technologists. The issue now falls to the Nebraska Legislature, with a hearing set for the Health and Human Services committee later this month. Previous bills that would have required formal education and certification for surgical technologists failed in the Nebraska legislature in 2011 and 2012.

AORN government affairs will continue to work with stakeholders in the state to ensure any regulatory and credentialing decisions are made with patient safety first in mind.