The Bureau of Labor Statistics has recognized a separate definition for Surgical Assistants starting in 2018.

The National Surgical Assistant Association announced in late 2017 that the BLS' Standard Occupational Classification Committee added Surgical Assistant to its list of nationally recognized professions.

According to the SOC Committee's manual, federal agencies collect, calculate, analyze and disseminate data about the occupations included in the SOC system. The classification of surgical assistants in this system should allow for more comparable data to be collected about the profession.

The BLS' decision could also open the door for surgical assistants who are private contractors to request direct billing of services.

Below is the approved BLS definition, effective Jan. 1, 2018:

29-9093 Surgical Assistants

"Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons. May, in accordance with State laws, help surgeons to make incisions and close surgical sites, manipulate or remove tissues, implant surgical devices or drains, suction the surgical site, place catheters, clamp or cauterize vessels or tissue, and apply dressings to surgical site. Excludes 'Registered Nurses' (29-1141) and 'Surgical Technologists' (29-2055)."