RI Introduces Smoke Evacuation Bill

Publish Date: March 8, 2017


AORN has long supported elimination of surgical smoke plume.  In response to the increasing importance of eliminating surgical smoke plume in our nation’s operating rooms, AORN’s 2017 board-approved Policy Agenda was updated to support legislative and regulatory efforts that work to create a surgical smoke-free environment.

A first of its kind, AORN Government Affairs drafted legislation to require facilities to adopt policies requiring the evacuation of surgical smoke in Rhode Island operating rooms. AORN then worked with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association to introduce the bill last month. Rep. Joe McNamara, a patient safety champion in the RI legislature and Chairman of the House Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) Committee, was quick to sponsor the legislation. Rep. McNamara was the primary sponsor of the RN Circulator legislation that successfully passed last year. Rhode Island facilities, while ahead of much of the nation in the utilization of smoke evacuators, still lack consistent policies requiring the evacuation of surgical smoke.

House bill 5324 was heard in the House Health, Education, and Welfare committee last week. The Committee had the opportunity to hear testimony from several witnesses including AORN Government Affairs Manager, Danielle Glover, MPA, AORN Senior Perioperative Practice Specialist and Surgical Smoke Safety Guideline author, Mary J. Ogg, MSN, RN, CNOR, as well as Julie Greenhalgh, RN, a RI perioperative nurse. Committee members were shocked to learn what was in surgical smoke and were very engaged in the testimony.  The HEW Committee voted at the beginning of the hearing to hold all bills for further study, so House bill 5324 is being held in committee for further discussion at this time.

Raising awareness of the dangers of surgical smoke and the ease with which it can be evacuated is essential to pushing for the elimination of surgical smoke.  AORN Government Affairs will continue to advocate for this legislation and provide updates on its progression. If you are interested in helping with this bill or want to learn how to become involved in legislative efforts in your state, please contact Danielle Glover at dglover@aorn.org.