You care about your constituents and so does the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). Learn what you can do as a policymaker to help ensure your constituents continue to receive the highest quality of care by preserving patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care. Take action. Protect patients.
A young pregnant woman was in the hospital and receiving an epidural to help relieve labor pain. Suddenly, she went into cardiac arrest. Her physician anesthesiologist immediately placed a breathing tube, administered medication to restart her heart and instructed the care team to begin chest compressions. The physician anesthesiologist and his team were able to get the young woman’s pulse back. Worried about the well-being of the baby, the physician anesthesiologist rushed the woman to the operating room, where she received an emergency cesarean section that saved the baby’s life. While the newborn was in good health, the mother was in critical condition. Her physician anesthesiologist immediately took her to the emergency room and stayed with her until she returned to stable condition.
Thanks to the quick thinking and actions of the physician anesthesiologist, when seconds were the difference between life and death during the procedure, both the mother’s and her newborn daughter’s lives were saved.
Surveys 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 during a medical procedure.
Yet across the nation, governors are allowing nurses, who have a median of 1,651 hours of clinical training, to administer anesthesia without a physician's supervision. These “opt-outs,” submitted by governors in 17 states, jeopardize the safety and quality of care for patients, with potentially tragic consequences.
Protect your constituents. If your state is considering an “opt-out,” keep the health and well-being of your constituents and your own family in mind as you help set health care policy in your state. If you are from a state with an “opt-out,” work with your governor to remove this option. To learn more about anesthesia and the importance of patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care, please download our informational materials and watch firsthand accounts of how physician anesthesiologists save lives.