Most surgeries require the use of a “First Assistant” to the surgeon, this role had been historically filled been another physician or resident (similar to the co-pilot to a pilot on a plane). However because of the restriction on the number of hours medical residents can work, combined with the lack of residents at non-teaching hospitals, a tremendous void had been created over the past 20 years for highly trained and specialized surgical first assistants.
In 2003, Illinois became one of the first states in the nation to regulate nationally certified surgical assistants and since then, the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation has been issuing licenses to surgical assistants who graduate from an approved medical education and pass a nationally certified exam on first assisting. Once they meet all the requirements they are given the title “Registered Surgical Assistant”.
Many hospitals have already found it much more cost effective to contract with independent Registered Surgical Assistants, who they do not have to pay salary and benefits to and who can instead bill the insurance company directly for their services.
From a quality assurance perspective, it is also beneficial because the hospital and surgery center can have the peace of mind of knowing that they will have highly trained professionals always available for both their scheduled and emergency surgeries and surgeons won’t have to scramble to find a seasoned first assistant.
Patients will receive a higher level of care because without a highly trained first assistant, who has an established professional rapport with the surgeon, less than optimal results can occur and in some cases, the life of the patient can be put at a tremendous risk.
Public Act 99-0100 was sponsored by State Representative Dan Burke (D-Chicago) and State Senator Mike Noland (D-Elgin).
ILLINOIS SURGICAL ASSISTANT ASSOCIATION
9211 Waterfall Glen Boulevard
Darien, IL 60561 217-280-0206