Surgical professionals in Georgia are breathing a bit easier this week after Gov. Brian Kemp signed surgical smoke evacuation legislation into law. Georgia joins seven other states that already mandate smoke-free ORs: Rhode Island, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, Illinois, Washington and Arizona.
The collective effort to pass the smoke evacuation bill among perioperative pros and other supporters in the Peach State was enormous, taking place over several years. In March 2021, Outpatient Surgery Magazine took readers behind the scenes of that legislative initiative. After failing to pass the bill in Georgia’s 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions, 2022’s effort finally got it over the finish line.
Brenda C. Ulmer, MN, RN, CNOR, FAORN, past president of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), was heavily involved in the legislative push for several years. “My first feeling on learning that our bill had been signed by the governor was one of relief,” she says. “It has been a long and hard-fought battle to get to this point, and I think we are all glad this part of the journey is complete.”
Ms. Ulmer says her legislative team’s next step will be to work toward helping hospitals and ASCs implement the new law. “It is one thing to have a law in place, but practice has to be based on AORN's surgical smoke safety guidelines, which are underpinned by science and published peer reviewed evidence,” she adds. “We've developed a program that will be presented at the Georgia Council annual conference in October to give operating rooms across our state the tools to successfully implement consistent smoke evacuation and filtration programs. We are committed to help drive permanent change.”
Jennifer Pennock, associate director of government affairs at AORN, says two more states could come online with their own laws soon. “Connecticut has legislation headed to the governor’s desk, and there are bills in New York that have a really good possibility of enactment by early June,” she says.
Check out this map that details the current statuses of all of the smoke evacuation bills working their way through state legislatures.Joe Paone