Physician Anesthesiologists Save Lives

Why it is essential to have a physician anesthesiologist on your anesthesia care team:

  • Following completion of Medical School, physician anesthesiologists undergo 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training (anesthesia residency).
  • Additional anesthesia specialty training may then be obtained in pain, critical care, pediatric, cardiac or obstetric anesthesia.
  • Physician Anesthesiologists are highly specialized medical specialists. They are qualified to evaluate, diagnose and treat medical conditions and emergencies.
  • Physician Anesthesiologists are the most highly trained member of the anesthesia care team and are a critical component of safe patient care before, during and after surgery. Often their role in planning your anesthetic care prior to surgery can prevent complications or disasters before they occur.
  • Although nurses play a role in the anesthesia care team, their training does not compare to, and cannot replace, that of a physician anesthesiologist.
  • When emergencies occur in the OR, seconds matter. In this situation, you want the most highly trained specialist at your side to save your or your family member’s life.
  • Would you want a physician anesthesiologist permanently removed from your anesthesia care team?

On March 23, 2020 Arizona Governor Ducey sent a letter to CMS permanently opting-out of federal regulations requiring physician supervision of nurse anesthetists (CRNAs)

AzSA Strongly Opposes Governor Ducey’s action

Removal of physician supervision over nurse anesthetists significantly decreases the safety of anesthesia care available to Arizona patients.

  • There is no shortage of anesthesia care in Arizona, even in the Covid-crisis.
  • Arizona has maintained a harmony between state and federal requirements over the past 20 years that define the relationship between physicians and nurse anesthetists. There is NO problem that needs solving.
  • We do not believe that the Boards of Medicine or Nursing were appropriately consulted with regard to the decision to opt out.
  • The COVID emergency is temporary, and any rule changes related to the Covid-crisis should also be temporary. This directly opposed the permanent letter to CMS.
  • The Opt Out Letter is in conflict with the American Medical Association’s policy which “requires physician supervision for certified registered nurse anesthetists for anesthesia services in Medicare participating hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and critical access hospitals”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What “Opt-Out” Effects are already being seen in Arizona?
    • Hospitals and clinics within the greater Metro area are signing contracts with CRNA teams that involve no physician supervision in the anesthesia patient care.
  • What is “rural pass through” legislation?
    • A program created to incentivize anesthesia providers to practice at small hospitals in rural areas.
    • “Pass through” funds at this time can only be used to hire CRNAs, not physician anesthesiologists.
  • If rural pass through legislation already decreases anesthesia costs in rural areas, is a federal opt out need to increase anesthesia access?
    • No. Financial considerations are already in place to bring anesthesia care to rural areas, there is no shortage of Arizona anesthesia providers and a federal opt-out is NOT needed to improve patient care. In fact, a federal opt out decreases patient care by removing the highest trained anesthesia provider from the patient’s care completely.

Letter sent by AzSA to Arizona Medical Board (AMB) inquiring whether AMB was consulted by Governor Ducey prior to his action to remove physician supervision requirements.

Good news from New York

NY State Governor Reinstated Physician Supervision over CRNAs. On 5/7/2020, Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.58 reinstated NY State regulations which require physician supervision over nurse anesthetists.

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