Code of the District of Columbia

§ 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).