SDW news brief: California nurse anesthetists allowed to administer anesthetics unsupervised

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 21, 2012

The California state Supreme Court issued an order last week in which it refused to prevent nurse anesthetists from administering anesthesia to hospital patients without a physician's supervision. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger initially authorized nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia without supervision in 2009, and that decision has been upheld since then, but the decision has met opposition from the California Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Medical Association. The court says that state law authorizes nurses to administer medications ordered by physicians without in-person supervision, but the representative for the California Society of Anesthesiologists argued that requiring physician supervision is implicit in the law's mandate that medications must be ordered by a physician.

The latest order from the Supreme Court will impact rural hospitals the most, as it will increase access to anesthesia while lowering the cost of anesthesia care and services such as surgery and childbirth, according to a spokesperson for the California Association of Nurse Anesthetists. Many nurse anesthetists in rural areas have already been administering anesthesia without in-person supervision, and many studies have concluded that nurses are able to administer the medication as safely as physicians.

San Francisco Chronicle

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