ASA: Only one state allows nurse anesthetists independent practice

LETTER — Posted Feb. 28, 2005

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Regarding "New Jersey anesthesiologists win scope-of-practice battle," (Article, Jan. 17): Thank you for your coverage regarding supervision of nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) during office-based surgery.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists would like to clarify one statement made in the article.

The concluding sentence of the article reads: "Twelve states permit CRNAs to work in hospitals without physician supervision when caring for Medicare patients."

Our members are concerned that some of your readers will interpret this statement to mean that CRNAs may practice independently in these states.

In fact, only New Hampshire law allows independent practice, and our information is that only a few hospitals permit nurse anesthetists to practice independently.

The other 11 states that have opted out of the Medicare requirement for physician supervision continue to require CRNAs to practice in collaboration with a physician so that patients continue to have a physician medically managing their care.

As your article indicates, the majority of states require CRNAs to be supervised by a physician, either an anesthesiologist or the operating surgeon.

We feel that it is important for all health care professionals to be on the same page when implementing regulations affecting patient safety.

Eugene P. Sinclair, MD, president, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Park Ridge, Ill.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2005/02/28/edlt0228.htm.

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