Rhode Island Enacts RN Circulator Law

Publish Date: July 19, 2016


Starting October 1, 2016 the Rhode Island department of health may not issue or renew a license to a facility unless the facility has adopted policies and procedures to have a minimum of one circulating nurse physically present in each operating room for the duration of each surgical procedure. Rhode Island joins over 30 states that address the importance of RN Circulators, and is the 25th state to have what AORN considers a strong law or regulation.

On July 7, 2016, Senate bill 2469 SUBA and House bill 7448 SUBA, which ensure there is an RN Circulator for every patient in every operating room, were transmitted to the Governor’s Office. On July 15, 2016, the bills became law.

While AORN maintains that every patient deserves to have an RN Circulator present as an advocate to improve surgical outcomes and having an RN Circulator for every patient in every operating room is a best practice, several states lack strong patient safety laws and regulations which require hospitals and ASCs to follow this best practice at all times. Therefore, AORN pursues state legislation and regulations that promote patient safety by requiring an RN Circulator for every patient.

Find out if your state has laws or regulations addressing RN Circulators here. If you have concerns about your facility’s policies or practices regarding circulating nurses, or you are interested in helping with legislation in your state to require an RN Circulator for every patient in every operating room, please contact Danielle Glover.

Read more about how this legislation came to fruition here.