An N.C. House committee has given its approval to a bill that would change employment standards for surgical employees at hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.

House Bill 43 is co-sponsored by state Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth. It was recommended by the House Health Committee on Tuesday and was forwarded to the House Rules and Operations Committee.

The bipartisan bill would establish employment standards for what certifications, training and licenses would be required, as well as verification that the person was employed in surgical technology for at least two years by Dec. 31, 2019.

The bill, if approved and signed into law, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

A surgical technologist typically performs duties that involve preparing an operating room for procedures and performing such tasks as sponging an operative site, transferring drugs to the surgical table, applying dressings to closed wounds and handling specimens.

“The health-care industry has a number of certifications in order for the public to feel confident they have had the proper training and are capable of taking care of them,” Lambeth said.

“The surgical technicians do not have a certification stamp of approval, even though they have very intense training. Virtually every other allied health worker who cares for patients has a certification.”

Lambeth said groups of surgical technologists approached the bill’s sponsors asking for the creation of a state statute requiring a certification designation.

Exceptions would be made for hospitals and surgical centers that can prove they were not able to hire enough qualified surgical technologists because of a shortage of those personnel in their communities.

The bill would enable the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to take “adverse action” against a hospital or surgical center for violating the eligibility requirements.

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