Birth of a Cath Lab Law
- Volume 19 - Issue 9 - September 2011
- Posted on: 9/6/11
- 9 Comments
- 8288 reads
The HB 2430 ran into formal opposition from the Washington Society of Radiological Technologists (WSRT) and its President-Elect, Pamela Lee.
Ms. Lee’s main opposition was based on the amount of radiation safety training the RCIS students received. She testified that radiation burns are on the rise in cardiac cath labs due to the lack of training.
Following her testimony, there were no questions by the committee to Ms. Lee.
On January 28, 2009, HB 2430 passed the vote of the full House of Representatives by a vote of 97-0. It was then sent to the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care.
Testimony for HB 2430 was heard by the Senate Committee, and the bill was passed by the full State Senate, in a 45-0 vote.
The nation’s first law recognizing the Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist as a certified profession was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire on March 17, 2010.
For Representative Morrell, the victory stood as one of her biggest accomplishments. The passage of HB 2430 had the rare distinction of passing as a bi-partisan, unanimous victory. “Not all bills come this easy,” she says. “Sometimes they can take up to 10 years to fight their way into law.”
Representative Morrell, a Democrat, was especially thankful to the ACC and was quick to point out that bi-partisan support was also key. “I had (State Representative) Bill Hinkle on the Republican side help me out. He is a paramedic and has dealt with cath labs for years.”
So where do RCISs around the country, facing the same issue, go from here?
House Bill 2430 can have a positive effect across the country in other states. Individual state DOH may recognize the value of the RCIS in cardiac cath labs, but have similar struggles with developing the scope of practice in cath labs. Washington State House Bill 2430 can provide a template for finding ways to solve potential liability issues.
Representative Morrell agrees. “This law can become a template. It happens all the time. For instance, we (Washington State) used the same law passed in Oklahoma to regulate sales of Sudafed. We said ‘Hey, we like that idea. Please send us your legislation.’”
But Ms. Morrell warns that passage of similar legislation in other states may not come as easy as it did in Washington. For such an important field, the RCIS is smaller and less organized nationally than other organizations.
Ms. Morrell suggests that technologists holding the RCIS are going to have to bind together and approach their state representatives in groups. She also suggests RCIS professionals seek out state politicians aware of what goes on in a cath lab and seek the backing of their national organizations.
It is apparent that many things need to come together for legislation like HB 2430 to be passed in other states. This may require coordinated efforts of state hospital associations, DOH in individual states and the power of national organizations such as the Society of Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals (SICP) and the ACC.
RCIS programs should also become involved, since their funding may be at stake. In order to maintain the highest professional standards in America’s cardiac centers, the CCI exam is still the standard for measuring knowledge and competency, and it is these programs that are the pillars of the RCIS.
It is also going to take the knowledge of people who have been there before. “I’d love to help organize this,” said Representative Morrell. No doubt others in the State of Washington feel the same.
In the fall of 2011, the DOH will roll out the announcement as to when the new certification will be required for all Washington State cath lab technologists. As of this writing, Representative Morrell, RN, is no longer in the House of Representatives. She continues her work as a cath lab nurse for Good Samaritan. William Sims, RCIS, MBA, is now the operations manager for the Cardiovascular Procedure Unit at the University of Washington Medical Center. Dr. Fishbein still holds office for the Washington State Chapter of the ACC and is an active practitioner at the University of Washington. Co-authors James McRae, RCIS, and Scott Corson, RCIS, testified at the Senate Hearing.
James McRae can be contacted at I_claudio2000@yahoo.com.