On Tuesday, December 3, ASA President Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Robert Jesse, M.D., Ph.D., principal deputy under secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and other VA representatives, to share ASA's concerns regarding the VA's proposed Nursing Handbook. Lasting more than an hour, the meeting was productive and allowed Dr. Fitch to present ASA's case for maintaining the VA's long-standing Anesthesia Service Handbook as the guide for anesthesia care for our nation's veterans.
Dr. Fitch relayed ASA's concerns about dismantling team-based care within the VA and pointed out the shortcomings of the AANA's two flawed studies upon which the VA's case for independent practice has been based. Dr. Fitch also urged a larger voice for internal stakeholders, such as the VA chiefs of anesthesiology.
ASA was told that the Handbook has not been finalized and that it is still in development, and that the VA is considering a public comment period should significant differences remain after meetings with external stakeholders. The VA indicated plans to meet with other interested stakeholders, both internal and external, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the AANA.
A full update on the VA Nursing Handbook issue will be provided as part of ASA Member Electronic Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, December 17 at 8 PM EST.