August 01, 2012
American Society of Anesthesiologists Launches Campaign in Opposition to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Proposal to Pay Nurse Anesthetists for Pain Procedures
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today launched a nationwide grassroots campaign in opposition to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposal to pay nurse anesthetists for chronic pain service.
Chronic pain management has been recognized as the practice of medicine. Almost all interventional pain services in the United States, including rural areas, are provided by properly trained physicians. Nurse anesthetists do not have formal education or training in chronic pain management.
“Even in the hands of specially trained physicians, chronic pain procedures are inherently dangerous due to the anatomy and delicate structure of the spine and nerves upon which chronic pain interventions are performed,” said ASA President Jerry A. Cohen, M.D. “Current restrictions on nurse anesthetists providing these services are appropriate and necessary in the interest of patient safety.”
Potential complications from pain procedures include allergic reactions, infections, bleeding, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries (e.g. paralysis) and brain stem tissue damage. All of these risks require extensive and costly medical interventions to address.
Anesthesiologists and other physicians are able to best provide pain management care, as they have the education and training, and are able to prescribe appropriate medication therapies. Often, chronic pain services include opioids, where specialized physician training is needed to minimize inappropriate use and prevent potentially lethal side effects.
“We urge CMS to reject the proposal,” continued Dr. Cohen. “Using scarce Medicare dollars to pay nurse anesthetists to perform complicated pain service procedures unnecessarily puts patients at risk. Patients who require anesthesia or relief from pain deserve the safest and highest quality of care.”
Patients who are concerned about who will perform their pain procedure, should consult their physician. For more information on pain medicine, please visit LifelinetoModernMedicine.com.