Nebraska Adopts Surgical First Assistant Practice Act
Nebraska has joined a number of states in adopting an additional licensure category for surgical first assistants. The Act, which becomes effective January 1, 2017, states “surgical first assistants aid in ensuring a safe surgical environment by maximizing patient safety by using appropriate techniques for processes including, but not limited to, maintaining hemostatis, proper patient positioning, clear visualization of the operative site, proper closure of the operative site, and correct dressing of a wound.” A detailed scope of practice is set out in the Act delineating specific responsibilities within these general categories noting that the scope of practice is not limited to the duties listed.
To qualify for licensure under the Act, surgical first assistants must be certified by an approved certifying body after completing an approved training program and passing a nationally recognized examination in addition to having a high school diploma or equivalent as determined by the Board.
The Act also includes a procedure for waiver of the education and certification requirement for currently practicing surgical first assistants based on evidence submitted prior to January 1, 2017.
For hospitals that credential surgical first assistants as allied health professionals, this means that credentialing procedures now need to verify licensure—whether obtained through the “grandfathering” process or via certification.