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New York Governor Vetoes Surgical Technologist Bill

Publish Date: 9/28/2011

On Friday, September 23, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed Senate bill 4563-A/A.6539-B, a surgical technologist education and certification bill that passed the New York State Senate and State Assembly earlier this summer.

The New York bill would have required education and certification of surgical technologists working in New York healthcare facilities. Governor Cuomo’s veto memo applauded the bill’s goal of protecting patients by increasing the educational and certification requirements for surgical technologists. However, Governor Cuomo was concerned that the bill would limit the employment of non-certified surgical technologists without providing a meaningful and effective enforcement mechanism. Governor Cuomo was also concerned that the bill did not establish minimum standards for certification of surgical technologists. Further, Cuomo was concerned that the bill did not grant any state agency the authority to promulgate regulations to administer the new requirements.

Governor Cuomo urged the bill’s supporters to work with the New York State Department of Health and State Education Department to develop a more comprehensive and direct approach to ensuring that the state’s surgical technologists are well-trained and well-qualified to serve patients undergoing surgery.

AORN believes education and certification of allied health professionals such as surgical technologists are important steps toward patient safety and achieving optimal outcomes in all operating rooms. AORN supported the intent and purpose of this bill but asked for changes clarifying that the surgical technologist works under the supervision of the registered nurse circulator in facilities licensed under Article 28 of New York’s public health law. Moving forward, AORN hopes to work with the interested stakeholders, the bill sponsors, and the New York State Department of Health and State Education Department on language that will accomplish everyone’s mutual purpose of advancing patient safety in New York operating rooms.

“Our hope in New York and all states where surgical technologists are pursuing education and certification legislation is that our AORN State Councils and State Coordinators can work collaboratively with the surgical technologists to achieve their legislative objectives while also preserving and affirming the supervisory role of the registered nurse in the operating room,” commented AORN President-elect Deborah Spratt, MPA BSN RN CNOR NEA-BC CRCST. “We share the common goal of assuring patient safety with collaborative teamwork.”

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