States Consider Surgical Tech Legislation

Publish Date: March 29, 2017


Arkansas, Nebraska, Nevada, and North Carolina have all seen legislation this cycle intended to regulate surgical technologists, but the approaches vary greatly.

Arkansas passed legislation, S167, which provides title protection for surgical technologists by authorizing the Arkansas Board of Medicine to register surgical technologists applicants who hold a credential as a certified surgical technologist from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, all military surgical technologist training program graduates, and currently working surgical technologists

Individuals not registered with the Board will be prohibited from using the title “registered surgical technologist.” This not a requirement for certification, it is merely title protection for registered surgical technologists.

Nebraska’s bill, LB360, would require surgical technologists employed by a health care facility or physician to register with the Board of Medicine. This bill does not require certification.

Nevada’s bill, AB347, would require certification of surgical technologists. However, there are exceptions for those who successfully completed a training program for surgical technologists administered by the United States Public Health Service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard or engaged in the practice of surgical technology in a health care facility before January 1, 2018.  The State Board of Health would oversee the adherence of these requirements.

North Carolina’s bill, H199, which passed the house, would require that North Carolina hospitals and ASCs only employ or contract with surgical technologists who have completed an accredited education program and hold and maintain a surgical technologist certification. Surgical technologists trained in the military, those who practicing work as a surgical technologist for the federal government, and those who were employed as a surgical technologist on, or during the two years immediately preceding, December 31, 2017 would be exempted from the proposed certification requirements but must complete 15 hours of continuing education annually going forward. 

In order to safeguard patient safety and to ensure state laws do not conflict with federal regulations and do not create two regulatory structures for those performing the scrub role. AORN believes the proper regulatory structure for surgical technologists, if one is even needed, should fall under the Board of Nursing since RNs supervise surgical technologists and the RNs who perform in the scrub role would fall under the Board of Nursing’s purview. AORN Government Affairs works with stakeholders to offer amendments clarifying the role of the RN Circulators and the relationship surgical technologists have with the surgical team, especially perioperative registered nurses. Additionally, AORN works with members and legislators to amend proposed any future allied health care bills in the state appropriately reference the supervisory presence of the registered nurse circulator in all operating rooms.

If you are interested in getting involved in these pieces of legislation and ensuring the perioperative RN perspective is heard, please contact AORN Government Affairs Manager Danielle Glover.