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Nurse Anesthetists' Scope of Practice Challenged Again in CA

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 3, 2011

Recht added that the physicians' challenge is "anti-consumer," and one that has become "a national story."
In that context, he said, physician groups in other states that are fighting nurse anesthetists' ability to administer anesthesia without physician supervision are "struggling to hold on to the anachronistic ways of the past." The fact that there is a physician shortage, and a growing need for patients to access healthcare services, means that "expanding the role of nurses is a logical option and progression for our healthcare system."

In January, after the October San Francisco Superior Court decision was issued in writing, it released this statement hailing that opinion:

"(This) ruling goes a long way toward ensuring that our patients have access to the safest, most cost-effective delivery of anesthesia available," said Elizabeth Wong, CANA President and a practicing California Registered Nurse Anesthetist. "This decision ensures that hospitals in underserved and economically disadvantaged areas will have the flexibility they need to remain viable."

She added that safety "has not been an issue for the 16 states that have the opt-out in place. There has not been a single reported quality of care incident in those states since the rule was first adopted 10 years ago in 2001. Further, a recent highly publicized study conducted by the Lewin Group, an independent national healthcare consulting firm, confirmed that CRNAs offer a quality, safe, and cost-effective alternative to physician specialists."

James Hindale MD, president of CMA, said, "Nurses can be an integral part of a medical tem if they work hand in hand and under the guidance of physicians, as they have for many decades.

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2 comments on "Nurse Anesthetists' Scope of Practice Challenged Again in CA"


Karin Wille (2/9/2011 at 12:27 PM)
I work in a rural hospital and we have a CRNA who routinely and expertly handles any and all types of emergencies. When we bring in new surgeons, they are usually leary of working with "just" a CRNA, but once they have been in the OR with him one time, they are confident in his abilities and no longer feel the need for a physician anesthetist. Our CRNA has been our primary anethesia provider for both emergency situations and during surgery for well over 10 years with NO incidents. CRNAs are highly trained, highly skilled, and do provide excellent care.

Patti A. Sims, CPMSM, CPCS (2/4/2011 at 3:36 PM)
As a patient, I would only want a physician to administer my anesthesia. I would only allow a CRNA if they are under the supervision of a physician. There may be some benefit in rural areas to a CRNQ working without supervision, but as a patient would not support non-supervised CRNA's.