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Obstetrical Anesthesia Equally Safe When Provided by CRNAs or Anesthesiologists

Obstetrical anesthesia, whether provided by Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) or anesthesiologists, is extremely safe//. There is no difference in safety between hospitals that use only CRNAs compared with those that use only anesthesiologists, according to a new study.

The study, titled "Anesthesia Staffing and Anesthetic Complications During Cesarean Delivery" was a retrospective analysis undertaken by Daniel Simonson. He and his fellow researchers set out to identify differences in the rates of anesthetic complications for cesarean section in hospitals where the OB anesthesia is provided solely by CRNAs compared to hospitals where the OB anesthesia is provided solely by anesthesiologists in the state of Washington.

The results showed that there is no difference in rates of complications between hospitals that use only CRNAs compared with those that use only anesthesiologists. No difference was found in mortality rates either.

"The study results clearly demonstrate that OB anesthesia complications are no different between the CRNA-only and anesthesiologist-only staffing models," Simonson said. "Expectant mothers can have great confidence knowing that they and their babies will be safe in the care of a nurse anesthetist or an anesthesiologist.

"Further, hospital administrators and anesthesiology groups can comfortably consider variables other than provider safety or quality such as provider availability, cost, and the percentage of Medicaid patients cared for at their facility when staffing for obstetrical anesthesia," Simonson added.

The study involved 134,806 patients, including 33,236 who were cared for at hospitals whose OB anesthesia was staffed by CRNAs only, and 101,570 who were cared for at hospitals staffed by anesthesiologists only. Washington state hospital discharge data for 1993-2004 were obtained from the Comprehensive Abstract and Reporting System database and merged with data
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