Legislation would Lower the Standard of Care by Allowing Inexperienced and Less Educated Anesthesiologist Assistants to Deliver Anesthesia to Maryland Patients
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA), whose members are Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), today announced their opposition to Senate Bill 798 and House Bill 1161. These troubling bills would license anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) to practice in Maryland and would drastically alter the anesthesia delivery model currently utilized in the state. AAs, who are less qualified than anesthesiologists and CRNAs, currently are licensed or certified to practice in only 10 states and cannot practice in the U.S. Military. The bills are being supported by Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"The passage of this legislation would radically change the model of anesthesia delivery and would be extremely detrimental to the quality of care in operating rooms and create unnecessary risk for Maryland patients. Maryland is a world leader in health care and lowering the standards for anesthesia providers must be rejected," said Ron Seligman, CRNA, MS, President of MANA. "Anesthesia is 95% routine care and 5% crisis management when patients have unanticipated adverse responses to anesthesia and surgery. I would think Maryland legislators would want the highest skilled practitioners handling their loved one's cases and not an AA that has no prior healthcare experience and could have been working on Wall Street just two years prior."
This legislation is alarming because AAs do not need to have any prior health care experience or a health care related degree for admission to a two-year anesthesiologist assistant program.
On the other hand, a CRNA must be a registered nurse, have a four-year nursing degree, and have at least one year of critical care nursing experience prior to admission to a graduate-level nurse anesthesia educational program.
Over the years, numerous studies have concluded that CRNAs provide safe anesthesia care; however, no studies have been done to determine the safety record of AAs. Nurse anesthetists have been rendering quality anesthesia care for more than a century.
Medicare rules specify that AAs must practice under the medical direction of an anesthesiologist but an anesthesiologist may run four concurrent operations while directly supervising AAs. Consequently, the anesthesiologist may not be directly in the room with the AA and may be circulating to assist or supervise other surgical suites. When that is the case, patients are left in the care of the lesser-educated and lesser-trained AAs.
During these difficult economic times it makes no sense to engage in new, duplicative spending. It would be more cost efficient to expand the existing
No Savings To Patients
Since the services of AAs and CRNAs are reimbursed at the same rates, patients would pay the same amount for less qualified AAs.
There are 109 accredited Nurse Anesthesia programs nationally including the
CRNAs are the sole anesthesia providers in more than two thirds of all rural hospitals. (Source: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists). SB 798 and HB 1161 would decrease the number of operating rooms available to educate nurse anesthesia students because AAs are not allowed to train or supervise student nurse anesthetists.
In addition, this legislation could create a shortage of anesthesia providers in rural areas. Unlike CRNAs, AAs simply cannot meet the need of rural hospitals because they are required to be directly supervised by an anesthesiologist at all times. Because anesthesiologists typically shun working in rural communities, and because rural facilities cannot afford to employ both anesthesiologists and their highly-paid assistants who cannot work independently, AAs are not the answer to the workforce shortages and patient access to care issues affecting rural America.
MEDIA CONTACT Dan Ronayne (202) 870-4902
|SOURCE Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists|
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