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AORN Legislative Successes Continue

Publish Date: May 18, 2022

On Monday, May 9, Georgia Governor Kemp signed SB 573 into law. The new law, which goes into effect July 1, 2022, requires hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to utilize surgical smoke evacuation systems during surgical procedures to protect patients and health care workers from the hazards of surgical smoke.

The success in Georgia comes after more than three years of advocacy work led by the Georgia State Council in collaboration with the Georgia Nurses’ Association (GNA) which adopted surgical smoke evacuation legislation as one of its top legislative priorities. Over the years, the Georgia Hospital Association remained a staunch opponent of the legislation and wielded great influence over key legislators in the House and Senate. The advocates in Georgia never gave up their quest to make the state surgical smoke-free, testifying at committee hearing after committee hearing, meeting with legislators, and rallying support from every corner of the state to get legislation enacted.

“Our advocates never gave up hope that our efforts to educate and persuade our legislators would lead to success. Congratulations to all of us in Georgia,” said AORN Past President Brenda Ulmer, MN, RN, CNOR, FAORN.

In Connecticut, after months of meetings with legislators and stakeholders, SB 89 was approved unanimously by the Public Health Committee in early March. As the session days waned, the legislation was rolled into an omnibus Public Health bill, HB 5500, that included a number of different bills approved by the Committee, including SB 89. HB 5500 was signed into law by Governor Lamont on May 24. The new smoke evacuation law will go into effect January 1, 2024.

The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) did its own necessary groundwork to collect feedback from its members on whether a smoke evacuation law would be a burden. As AORN had determined in a 2020 survey of Connecticut members, the CHA found that most of its member hospitals already had the equipment. CHA agreed not to oppose the legislation, paving the way for surgical smoke evacuation legislative success in Connecticut.

“SB 89 had widespread support from health care providers, public health advocates and members of the Public Health Committee,” said Cassandra Eilers, BSN, RN, CNOR. “In fact, our legislative champions were so committed to surgical smoke evacuation that they made sure SB 89 made it into the Committee’s omnibus public health bill.”

Congratulations to Georgia and Connecticut on your surgical smoke evacuation success. The addition of these two states brings the total to nine states nationwide with surgical smoke evacuation laws.

See all pending and enacted surgical smoke evacuation bills, and contact Jennifer Pennock, AORN’s Associate Director of Government Affairs, to get involved in your state.