UHW Members Stage Mock Surgery at Capitol to Urge Gov. Brown to Improve Operating Room Safety

[Aug. 19, 2014] SACRAMENTO, Calif.Hundreds of California surgical workers rallied to improve operating room safety by staging a mock procedure at the State Capitol and urging Gov. Jerry Brown to support legislation that helps reduce patient infections and other complications.

“Our goal is to ensure the highest quality of care and safety for our patients and that starts with everyone at the operating room table being appropriately educated and credentialed,” said Yitskhaq Abraham, a certified surgical technologist at Kaiser West L.A. “Another advantage is that the costs would be paid for by the workers and their employers – none of it would come from taxpayers.”

To illustrate the need for greater operating room safety, workers staged an hour-long mock knee replacement procedure, led by an actual surgeon and assisted by surgical technologists, the employees who prepare patients, ensure the operating room is sterile and assemble all surgical equipment and confirm that it is working properly.

Under AB 2062, legislation introduced by Assemblymember Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), all newly practicing surgical technologists would be required to be certified after Jan. 1, 2015. The measure unanimously passed the Assembly in May and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. In 2012, Gov. Brown vetoed similar legislation.

Currently, the State of California has no minimum education or certification requirements for surgical technologists, making them the only professionals working in operating rooms without a license or certification. Nearly 9,400 surgical technologists work in California.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating room infections are the second-most common type of hospital-acquired infections, and the most costly.

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