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New Anesthesia Provider May Threaten Operating Room Safety
Date:2/24/2009

rsing 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.

Fiscally Irresponsible

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 University of Maryland nurse anesthesia program rather than develop a costly new program for AAs. Further, the cost of establishing a licensing/regulatory body will far exceed any potential benefit from recruiting a limited number of AAs. Under this legislation the Board of Medicine would need to take on additional costs to regulate AAs. Regulations will need to be created as well as enforcement procedures.

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.

Not Needed

The University of Maryland School of Nursing has said it is capable of and willing to expand its proven nurse anesthesia program to meet any perceived workforce shortages. The University of Maryland Nurse Anesthetist program started in 2004 and graduated its first class in December 2006. To date
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SOURCE Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists
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