What is the difference between circulating nurse and instrumentalist?

Nurses who work in the operating room are classified as circulating and instrumentalists. Both differ in their functions. The circulating nurse is the one who controls and coordinates all the activities within the operating room and monitors the care for each patient, while the scrub nurse is the one who has technical knowledge that allows her to offer a service in patient care and apply biosafety processes. , instrumentation, environmental and administrative sanitation.

Circulating nurse

It is the one that controls and coordinates the activities within the operating room and monitors the care that each patient requires. It is ensured that the sterile team has each of the items to perform the surgical procedure. You must know all the supplies and equipment, you must obtain them quickly and prevent dangers in their use and conservation. You must verify that all devices are working properly.

Review the clinical file, studies and preoperative laboratory tests. It is responsible for recording the time and date, the diagnosis and treatment of the patient and the type of surgery. Verifies the patient’s condition, the venous line, antibiotic prophylaxis, extremity bandaging and other therapeutic measures. It is responsible for dressing the already sterile person and counting the instruments.


He is a professional with a level of scientific and technical knowledge that allows him to offer a quality patient care service applying instrumentation, biosafety, sanitation and administration processes. He knows in advance the operation to be carried out, reviews the instrumentation and prepares all the necessary material for the operation, verifying that there is no lack of cream for the start of the intervention. She performs her surgical scrub and dresses in sterile clothes with the help of the circulating nurse.

Dress the instrumentation tables arranging the order of the elements that will be used in the process. Set up the sterile field and help the surgeons put on gloves. Deliver each requested instrument to the surgeons. Takes the intraoperative samples and transfers them to the circulating nurse. Keeps the table tidy and disposes of used material.

Differences between circulating nurse and instrumentalist

  • The scrub nurse goes sterile.
  • The circulating nurse does not go sterile.
  • The scrub nurse prepares all the sterile material and assists the surgeons by providing them with the necessary material for the intervention. She can participate in the intervention when required.
  • The circulating nurse receives the patient, canalizes the lines and administers antibiotic prophylaxis. Check the patient’s data and help the orderly to transfer the patient in the transfer to the table.

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