Question For Or Nurses

  1. I am a nursing student and recently was in the OR for a rotation.
    The surgical techs did all of the assisting the doctor and the RN
    circulated and counted the instruments, etc. Is this the norm?
    What are the usual responsibilities of the OR RN?
    Thanks,
    RJM
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   kathrynlynn
    Yes. This is the 'norm'; however, some facilities do have RN's in the scrub role as well...it depends on the nurse to tech ratio. I worked for 10 years in one facility and scrubbed probably 60% of the time.

    The circulating nurse is an RN who circulates (is an 'unsterile' member of the team) for an OR procedure and is responsible for coordinating the needs for the procedures and the patients safety and comfort. When in the OR, the circulator provides total patient care, makes assessments and must be able to prioritize and organize the patient's care. (Which to some sounds like nothing, but when you look at all the medical/technological advances in the last decade, sometimes simply keeping up with all the latest gadgets is a challenge in itself!)

    As an RN circulator, the nursing process is utilized before, during, and after the procedure.

    With the nursing shortage, hospital administrators may look to utilize UAP's to meet staffing needs. HCFA and JCAHO have loose interpretations of the use of UAP's in a circulator role.

    One must be aware of their state board of nursing rules. In twenty states, it is illegal for anyone but an RN to circulate.

    Hope this helps clarify. Have a great week.

    K. Lynn Kokiko, RN,BSN,CNOR
  4. by   rnor
    Most of the time in the OR where I work the techs. or LPNs scrub, there are a few RN's that scrub also, and there are times we (RN) has to scrub.
  5. by   VictoriaG
    Perhaps this will clarify the situation. The circulator RN is in charge of the room. She is the watchkeeper, she is ultimately responsible to the patient, even to the point of stopping the doctor when he in any way endangers the patient (ie. refusing to halt surgery dury a miscount, or breaking sterile field)

    The scrub person can be an unlicensed tech, an LPN, RN, or paramedic. In most states, the circulator must be an RN.
  6. by   heartholder
    VictoriaG. very well put. Just because the circulator doesn't pass instruments, doesn't mean we aren't important. we are vital to the surgeon. we are the last avocate for the patient. and we are in charge of the room, we have to be able to look ahead and keep the flow of the room going, pre-op and send for his next patient.
    I just wanted to comment on the well worded way you describe the role of the circle.
  7. by   angel03
    Quote from heartholder
    VictoriaG. very well put. Just because the circulator doesn't pass instruments, doesn't mean we aren't important. we are vital to the surgeon. we are the last avocate for the patient. and we are in charge of the room, we have to be able to look ahead and keep the flow of the room going, pre-op and send for his next patient.
    I just wanted to comment on the well worded way you describe the role of the circle.
    :angel2::angel2::angel2:I must also praise heartholder for her comments......We are the patients advocate...our job is most important....thanks

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