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Policy Agenda

Policy Agenda

We Fight for What Matters

Each year the AORN board of directors establishes a policy agenda based on recommendations from the National Legislative Forum. The Government Affairs team pursues these goals in legislative and regulatory arenas nationwide.

Our team collaborates with health care colleagues, organizations, and decision-makers to advance patient safety and health care improvements in all operative settings, but we don’t endorse specific candidates.

Current Policy Agenda

  • Health Equity

    Improving surgical outcomes requires more equitable care delivery and institutional investment in the safety and well-being of all care providers. AORN urges extraordinary action to curb and eliminate all disparities within current models of care.

  • Safe Care Delivery

    Perioperative nurses and surgical teams require essential PPE, public health readiness, and adequate mental health support and compensation for nursing services to deliver safe care to all patients at all times, and especially during national emergencies.

  • Surgical Smoke Evacuation

    AORN leads efforts to enact laws requiring facilities to adopt and implement policies addressing evacuation of surgical smoke for all smoke-generating procedures to eliminate ongoing exposure to the hazardous carcinogenic and mutagenic cells contained in surgical smoke and to ensure the health and safety of all surgical team members.

  • Safety and Support: For Patients and Perioperative Nurses

    We encourage legislative and regulatory efforts to establish an accountable, trusting patient safety culture in the perioperative setting, including robust whistleblower protections for health care providers and mandatory reporting of safety incidences, such as surgical site infections and wrong site surgery. In addition to surgical smoke-free operating rooms, perioperative nurses deserve fatigue prevention resources, strong workplace violence protections, and safe patient handling programs focused on injury prevention.

  • Perioperative Practice Issues

    RN Circulator: We work to ensure every surgical patient has a dedicated perioperative registered nurse circulator for the duration of each operative and invasive procedure. Our team also actively promotes laws and regulations to ensure the supervisory presence of the perioperative RN in the perioperative setting.

    RN First Assistant: We support the expanded role of the RNFA by actively working to achieve reimbursement parity for RNFAs. RNFAs work in collaboration with the entire surgical team to achieve optimal patient outcomes nationwide and yet private payer reimbursement is only guaranteed in 17 states.

    Professional Practice: We protect the perioperative registered nurse’s scope of practice and patient safety by engaging in legislative, regulatory, agency, and other stakeholder approaches to RN education, certification, supervision, roles, competencies, and duties.


    Our team promotes the role of the perioperative registered nurse in achieving the shared goals of cost containment and improved patient experiences and outcomes, including safe pain control after surgery. Healthcare systems should recognize the contributions of the perioperative registered nurse in improving patient outcomes. AORN also promotes standardized data collection and analysis to advance improvements in patient safety and care quality.