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Poll Confirms Florida Patients Want a Physician Anesthesiologist Directing Anesthetic Care

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

More than 92 percent of Florida’s registered voters want a physician anesthesiologist directing their anesthetic care, as revealed in a scientifically conducted public opinion poll released by the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists (FSA).

The FSA sponsored poll queried the public’s views on exactly whom they preferred leading or conducting their anesthetic. By substantial margins, physician-led anesthesia was the clear preference of Floridian voters. The poll’s findings all pointed to the public’s strong agreement that only a physician should be in charge when a patient is anesthetized for procedural or surgical cases.

Survey findings of note:

  • 92 percent said they “want an anesthesiology physician directing my anesthetic care.”  
  • 87 percent agreed that “giving anesthesia to patients is a complicated and difficult job that should only be performed directly by or under the supervision of a trained physician.”
  • 79 percent felt a physician anesthesiologist was best qualified to administer anesthesia during surgery, versus 9% who said a nurse was best qualified. The margin of that preference was a substantial nine to one.
  • 74 percent answered that “having nurses administer anesthesia without the supervision of a doctor is a very dangerous idea.”
  • Nearly three in four disagreed with the statement that “doctors and nurses should work in equal collaboration with each other and neither one should be in charge.”

The polling results, performed by Clearview Research, were based on interviews of 750 registered voters located throughout Florida with a margin of error of +/- 3.57 at the 95 percent confidence level.  Members of the public were chosen based upon their voting participation in the 2010 and 2012 elections. The poll was designed to capture those Floridians most likely to be a part of the voting population in the state’s 2014 elections.

House Bill 7071 would remove physician supervision of nurse anesthetists administering anesthesia and is currently being considered in the Florida Legislature. Florida Society of Anesthesiologists President Jay Epstein, M.D. was quoted in a Florida Society of Anesthesiologists news release that “the citizens polled would be quite surprised to learn that our lawmakers would even consider doing away with a safety standard that so many have relied upon for themselves, their families, and their friends when they have needed anesthesia care.”

This latest poll confirms findings of previous surveys, which repeatedly show patients want physicians in charge of their care. In a recent American Medical Association survey, 70 percent of consumer respondents said they believed only a physician should administer and monitor anesthesia levels before and after surgery, and 80 percent believed only a physician should perform pain medicine procedures like spinal injections.

Physician anesthesiologists, who receive 12,000 hours to 16,000 hours of clinical training, are of critical importance in ensuring that anesthesia is administered safely, and are highly trained to resolve complications that may arise before, during, and after a medical procedure. They have the specific medical education to make critical decisions should an emergency arise or if a routine procedure becomes complicated. Nurse anesthetists are trained to administer anesthesia, but do not have the medical education or clinical training to make critical medical decisions during or outside of the procedure itself.

To learn more about anesthesia and the importance of patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care, please visit ASA’s When Seconds Count™ website.

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