What’s Ahead for AORN’s Policy Agenda in 2017?

Publish Date: January 18, 2017


The year ahead could prove to be exciting and lively one on Capitol Hill and AORN’s legislative experts are ready to promote and respond to legislative, regulatory and other policy issues that impact the practice of perioperative nursing and patient safety in the surgical environment. 

“AORN works collaboratively with health care colleagues, organizations, and decision-makers to advance patient safety and health care improvements in all operative settings,” explains Danielle Glover, AORN’s legal and government affairs manager.

She highlights the six areas of focus for AORN’s 2017 Policy Agenda:

  • RN as Circulator: Every surgical patient deserves a dedicated perioperative registered nurse circulator for the duration of any operative or other invasive procedure.  AORN actively promotes laws and regulations to ensure the supervisory presence of the registered nurse circulator in the perioperative setting for patient safety.
  • Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA): AORN supports the expanded role of the RNFA by actively working to obtain reimbursement parity for RNFAs.
  • Workplace Safety: Perioperative nurses deserve strong workplace violence protections and safe patient handling programs focused on injury prevention.  AORN supports legislation and policies that eliminate surgical smoke plume and manual patient handling. Institutions should also have strong and enforceable safety policies for the operating room environment on such issues as sharps safety, infection control, environmental cleaning, and electrical cord placement.  Institutions should provide appropriate emergency preparedness supplies and training. AORN supports legislation and regulations that create a safe and healthy work environment such as increased penalties for those convicted of assaults of health care personnel and the establishment of violence prevention programs.
  • Patient Safety Culture: AORN encourages legislative and regulatory efforts to establish an accountable, trusting patient safety culture in the perioperative setting, such as robust whistleblower protections for health care providers and mandatory reporting on safe surgery checklist use.
  • Professional Practice: AORN protects 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.
  • Health System Improvements: AORN promotes the role of the perioperative registered nurse in achieving the reform goals of cost containment and improved patient experiences and outcomes.  Health care system reform efforts 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.

Glover notes two minor updates to this year’s agenda, including the name change from “Legislative Priorities” to “Policy Agenda” in order to encompass all of the tactics AORN employs, including legislation, regulation, and other relevant actions that may impact perioperative nursing practice. She explains there is also updated language in the “Workplace Safety” section that supports safety measures such as eliminating surgical smoke plume, a nod to AORN’s new guideline on surgical smoke safety and Go Clear Award Program for a surgical smoke-free perioperative environment.

In addition to these agenda items, AORN will also be paying attention to Medicaid expansion in the states, as well as any changes with the Affordable Care Act and will be following discussion around the nomination of Tom Price for Health and Human Services Secretary. “With any changes, we are going to be making sure the perioperative voice is heard at all levels,” Glover stresses.

Stay Connected

Glover encourages AORN members to stay current with governmental activities that impact perioperative practice through three key outlets:

  • Learn about local legislative activities and news by visiting My State on AORN’s website
  • Follow Periop Insider news each week to stay current with the ambitious work of AORN’s government affairs team working each day to continue AORN’s mission to advance perioperative patient safety.
  • Get involved with AORN’s National Legislative Forum by registering with Glover to sign up and participate in monthly updates.

Additional Resources

Have a question about AORN’s policy and government affairs activities? Contact Danielle Glover.

Check out AORN’s Advocacy Handbook and learn how to become an advocate.

For Managers

Check out AORN’s Community and Government Affairs webpage and find ways to get involved and encourage your staff members to get involved with the important work of AORN.