Guidance Available on Colorado Registry for Surgical Technologists and Assistants

When Colorado passed its new law last summer aimed at cracking down on health care workers suspected of drug abuse, there was little information available explaining how it would be implemented. Since then, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has set up a website with registration information and answering questions about the law.

The new law covers health care institutions, health care providers, and companies that provide health care professionals to such organizations on a contract basis. It requires persons performing the functions of Surgical Technologists and Surgical Assistants to register by April 1, 2011. After April 1, 2011, covered employers must check this database prior to hiring someone to perform these functions to assure that the candidate is registered and in good standing. Employers must also provide written notice within two weeks of taking disciplinary action or conducting an investigation of a person performing these functions who is suspected of drug use or abuse.
The Q&A page of the website indicates that no one can perform the functions of a Surgical Technologist or Surgical Assistant after April 1, 2011, without being registered. DORA is conducting outreach to inform Surgical Technologists and Surgical Assistants of the registration requirement. However, to avoid having to suspend or remove someone from work until registration can be accomplished, employers of such persons should make them aware of the registration requirement and provide the website. Employers may also wish to include this in ads posted near and after April 1st.

Some questions remain about who must register. The law requires registration of all persons who will “perform the functions of” a Surgical Technologist or Surgical Assistant. These functions are listed in the statute. Physicians, Physician Assistants, Advance Practice Nurses, and Registered Nurses are not required to register. DORA is researching whether Radiation, CT, and other health care technicians who perform some of the functions of a Surgical Assistant or Surgical Technologist are required to register. Individuals are responsible for determining if they must register. The website indicates, however, that employers may be a good resource for assistance in making this determination. DORA representatives are also available for consultation.
DORA anticipates having the applicatiion form available on the site some time in February. Those interested can sign up for e-mail alerts as the site is updated. DORA will send an alert when the application form is available.