Surgical technologists play a vital role in patient safety in operating rooms. They deal directly with patients and other members of the surgical team. The actions of surgical technologists are guided by the code of ethics written for the profession. The code of ethics is a compilation of 10 position statements. Each of the statements deals with some aspect of surgical technologists’ job duties.
Surgical technologists are part of the operating room surgical team. They prepare operating rooms and surgical instruments before the operation. They are responsible for making sure all surgical equipment is in working order. They prepare patients for surgery per the surgeon’s instructions. Surgical technologists assist surgeons and nurses by helping the surgical team prepare for surgery. During the operation, they pass surgical instruments, hold surgical instruments, check patient vital signs, operate diagnostic equipment and take care of or dispose of surgical specimens. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of surgical technologists will grow by 25 percent between the years of 2008 and 2018.
The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) provides ethical guidelines for technicians working in the field. The AST was created in 1969 by members of three other organizations: the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (ACORN) and the American Hospital Association (AHA). The AST goal is to “ensure surgical technologists … have the knowledge and skills to administer patient care of the highest quality."
Position statements one through four of the code of ethics guide the surgical technologists’ actions in regards to patient care. Surgical technologists are directed to perform their duties according to the highest standards. Like other medical professionals, they must keep patient information confidential and respect patient privacy. They are expected to behave in a manner that is respectful of the patients’ belief systems while protecting their moral and legal rights. They are to act in a manner that keeps patients safe and free from injury or injustice.
The last five position statements in the Surgical Technologists Code of Ethics relate to the technicians professional behavior. Technologists are instructed to participate in ongoing education, to practice the profession in a manner that promotes pride and dignity and to practice in a condition that is free from disease-causing germs and contaminants. According to the code, surgical technologists are required to report unethical conduct or practice to persons in authority.
Health Care Workers
Surgical technologists are required to behave in a professional manner to other surgical technologists, as well as other members of the health care profession. According to position statement five, they must “promote harmony” to achieve “better patient care.” Position statement 10 contends surgical technologists must “adhere to the code of ethics at all times” and with all members of the health care team.