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What the Obama win means to AORN

Publish Date: 11/7/2012

In January 2013, President Obama will recite the oath of office and be sworn in for his second term. Whatever the election results, AORN’s legislative priorities remain constant. They are mission-based to create awareness of patient and health care worker needs and advance initiatives affecting the perioperative profession.

"We encourage our perioperative nurses to get to the [political] table because they can speak for patients," says Amy L. Hader, JD, AORN's director of legal and government affairs. "Nurses are responsible for safeguarding patients even when the adminstration does change, and they always need to speak up to the current administration."

While nurses should have their voice heard on all issues affecting the profession, AORN specifically focuses on legislative priorities revisited and approved annually by its leadership. Hader explains why the four current priorities continue to be of importance.

1. RN as circulator.

27 states lack circulator laws or have weak language on the issue, Hader says. AORN works to advance RN circulator legislation in these states, typically focusing efforts more strongly in select few states based on grassroots engagement.

"We think it's important for patients who are at their most vulnerable — probably anesthetized — to have somebody protecting them with the training, education and background a perioperative nurse brings to that OR," she says.

As Obama's administration continues its work to implement the Affordable Care Act, AORN anticipates an increase in surgical demand, and will continue to emphasize the importance of the RN circulator and protecting patients’ rights during each and every procedure performed nationwide.

2. Preserving and protecting the perioperative RN's scope of practice. 

There are just 16 states with insurance code legislation mandating reimbursement for RNFAs, and Medicare only pays nurses in this position if they are advanced practice nurses.

"We will continue to work toward not only advancing and protecting the role of RNFAs, but also to advance legislation requiring private payers to reimburse for those services when provided by an RN," Hader says. “We will also continue to monitor, evaluate and respond to allied health care legislative initiatives that may arise regardless of who is in office.”

3. Supporting workplace safety and patient safety initiatives.

"The biggest workplace safety areas we are focusing on are safe patient lifting and environmental hazards like waste anesthetic gases and surgical smoke, and sharps safety for everyone on the surgical team," she says. "We want to make sure the workplace is safe for the worker and the patient. Sometimes this is less of a legislative issue and more about the distribution of AORN resources and advancing the collective knowledge of the profession."

4. Advancing positive health care improvements.

"AORN is hopeful for positive and systemic changes in health care that improve everybody's experience and increase workers' and patients' safety," she says. "Whether changes are happening at the federal level, state level or in hospital policy, our hope is to have our members focused on what our patients need in the OR. Our advocacy message remains that all perioperative nurses need to show leadership as nurses remain at the forefront of surgical safety."

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