Lunch relief by a scrub tech?

Specialties Operating Room


Specializes in OR.

I work in a float pool for a couple surgery centers.  A new place I went to is super super short staffed and had 7 cases today; one OR. I was expecting no lunch due to schedule. Fine, whatever.

However, someone came in to relieve me for lunch but it was a scrub tech. The surgeon told me to leave to eat; that he'd be OK...I ate as fast as I could because was starving.

There are 3 RNs working currently. One was pre/oping a patient and one was in PACU. I'm a little new to the surgery center lifestyle as I've mainly worked hospital and this would never fly in a hospital. She didn't do any paper work or hand out meds; just wrote down what screws they used.

I don't know how I feel about this. I do know that I feel hungry after what is usually an 11 hour shift without a break. There is a DON/manager but she was busy and the Pre/PACU manager RN called in.

I feel like this is wrong. I'm not really in a place to make demands or changes. They were just bought out by the company I work for and are very used to doing their own thing. The other RNs told me this is what happens if you want to eat somedays.

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Take a look at this link and see if your state requires an RN circulator

They also link to the CMS regulations which seem a bit nebulous in regards to RN circulator (blah blah under the supervision of an RN who is immediately available...)

Specializes in OR.

GREAT information, thank you so much!! Looks like I'm in the clear. I'm in a "room for improvement" state!

Specializes in Operating Room x 38 years.

The CMS bulletin isn't 'nebulous'. They state specifically that 'RN outside the room would not be considered immediately available'. 

Be advised that the CMS or AORN may publish statements but your state board of nursing is who regulates your practice. I would never accept relief for lunch by a less qualified person than an RN because it would constitute patient abandonment. Have I had a tech stand in while I used the restroom? Yes, only if there was no other RN available and I couldn't hold on any longer. I wouldn't leave for lunch, because by definition, lunch is off the clock aka 'not readily available'. 

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