Web site spotlight: Nurse anesthetists say they practice safely without physician supervision

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 12, 2010

Nurse anesthetists across the country are vehemently defending their ability to administer anesthesia to Medicare patients without physician supervision, saying there's never been a study showing the practice to be unsafe, as alleged by two large physician groups who filed a lawsuit last week.

On the contrary, several representatives of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) say studies have shown that certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) perform the service with equal safety, or even more safely, than anesthesiologists.

"It's fine for an anesthesiologist to sit in Los Angeles and say this can't go on; but it's another thing to create a policy that says you can't take care of an accident victim until a surgeon wanders in with his glorious presence," says Dan Simonson, a member of the AANA board and a nurse anesthetist and researcher in Spokane, WA. "This is not about patient safety. It's about access to care," he says.

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