Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter VI-C. Surgical Assistants; Scope of Practice; License Renewal; Transition.


§ 3–1206.41. Scope of practice.

(a) A surgical assistant shall be licensed by the Board of Medicine before practicing as a surgical assistant within the District of Columbia.

(b) An individual licensed to practice as a surgical assistant, as that practice is defined in § 3-1201.02(20) shall have the authority to:

(1) Provide local infiltration or the topical application of a local anesthetic and hemostatic agents at the operative site;

(2) Incise tissues;

(3) Ligate and approximate tissues with sutures and clamps;

(4) Apply tourniquets, casts, immobilizers, and surgical dressings;

(5) Check the placement and operation of equipment;

(6) Assist in moving and positioning the patient;

(7) Assist the surgeon in draping the patient;

(8) Prepare a patient by cleaning, shaving, and sterilizing the incision area;

(9) Retract tissue and expose the operating field area during operative procedures;

(10) Place suture ligatures and clamp, tie, and clip blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry;

(11) Use cautery for hemostasis under direct supervision;

(12) Assist in closure of skin and subcutaneous tissue;

(13) Assist in the cleanup of the surgical suite; and

(14) Check and restock the surgical suite.

(c) A surgical assistant shall not:

(1) Perform any surgical procedure independently;

(2) Have prescriptive authority; or

(3) Write any progress notes or orders on hospitalized patients, except operative notes.

(d) A supervising surgeon shall perform the critical portions of a surgical procedure and shall remain immediately available in the surgical suite for delegated acts that the surgical assistant performs or to respond to any emergency. Telecommunication shall not suffice as a means for directing delegated acts.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term “supervising surgeon” means a surgeon licensed by the Board who delegates to a licensed surgical assistant surgical assisting and oversees and accepts responsibility for the surgical assisting.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-99, § 641; as added Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-228, § 2(i), 53 DCR 10244; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 150, 56 DCR 1117.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in subsec. (e).


§ 3–1206.42. License renewal.

The Board of Medicine shall renew the license of a surgical assistant who, in addition to meeting the requirements of § 3-1205.04(q), has submitted to the Board, along with the application for renewal, documentation of current certification as a surgical assistant by:

(1) The National Surgical Assistant Association;

(2) The American Board of Surgical Assistants; or

(3) The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-99, § 642; as added Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-228, § 2(i), 53 DCR 10244; July 18, 2009, D.C. Law 18-26, § 2(f), 56 DCR 4043.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-26, in par. (1), deleted “or” from the end; in par. (2), substituted “; or” for a period at the end; and added par. (3).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Health Occupations Revision General Amendment Emergency Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-146, July 28, 2009, 56 DCR 6308).


§ 3–1206.43. Transition.

For a period of 2 years following March 6, 2007, all references in this chapter to surgical assistants shall be deemed to refer to persons meeting the requirements for licensure in the District, regardless of whether they are licensed in fact.


(Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-99, § 643; as added Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-228, § 2(i), 53 DCR 10244.)

Cross References

Licensing of health professionals, general qualifications of applicants, see § 3-1205.03.