Doctors Sue To Stop Unsupervised Nurse Anesthetists from Administering Anesthesia

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , February 3, 2010

The governor's action significantly impacts "the practice of medicine, [the doctors'] ability to protect their patients and their physician/patient relationships," according to the complaint.

The complaint asks the court to order the governor to withdraw his letter, declare that Schwarzenegger had no authority to submit it, and to "declare that, under California law, a CRNA is not authorized to administer anesthesia, except under the supervision of a physician."

It's unclear whether hospitals are already letting nurse anesthetists work independent of physician supervision. But the lawsuit alleged some hospitals have "already begun to take (that) position."

Hertzka says he would be surprised if nurse anesthetists are working without physician supervision because he doesn't think a medical malpractice company "would insure an unsupervised nurse for medical mishaps in any setting."

The lawsuit added that anesthesiologists and other doctors "are placed in particular peril, and suffer special damage and injury under present circumstances, because physicians have traditionally provided the supervision required by law in most facilities. Relationships between physicians, including but not limited to anesthesiologists, and CRNAs have been jeopardized and made uncertain by the Governor's actions."

Silva speculated that Schwarzenegger may have received pressure to opt out from the California Hospital Association and the California Association of Nurse Anesthetists successfully lobbied him to do so. The nursing group could not be reached for comment.

The California Medical Association represents about 35,000 of approximately 125,000 licensed physicians in the state. The anesthesia physician group has about 4,000 members, according to the lawsuit.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

4 comments on "Doctors Sue To Stop Unsupervised Nurse Anesthetists from Administering Anesthesia"

Ihavegas (8/9/2012 at 9:37 PM)
I love propaganda propagated by anesthesiologists losing control of their pocket books...All research has shown that crna's have equal outcomes as an anesthesiologistS.. Gareth you have no clue!! A stewardess does not have 3 years of training as a pilot.. Crna's have an additional 3 years of experience practicing the specialty of anesthesia.. This is all to do with money!!! Rural states would not have anesthesia providers if it wasn't for crnas... Don't believe me!! Here is a quote from the article by DR. Silva himself, "He adds that there isn't a severe shortage of anesthesiologists to require this revision."

TFTx2 (6/6/2012 at 3:28 PM)
It's all about control. Obviously physicians feel threatened and fearful of losing control and money. Studies show that there is NO difference in patient outcomes when either a CRNA or MD provides anesthesia. Yes, the author of this article needs to get their facts straight and physicians need to get over their control issues.

gareth (8/23/2011 at 12:39 PM)
Allowing an unsupervised nurse (CRNA) to perform your anesthetic is like allowing a stewardess to fly the airliner that you are on...if nothing goes wrong, she/he can do it..but, in anesthesia, subtle things go wrong and are not noticed until grandma gets home and can no longer live anone because a CRNA messed up her "conscious sedation"...




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