December 14, 2012
New Jersey Appellate Court Upholds Requirement for Presence of Anesthesiologists When Nurse Anesthetists Administer Anesthesia in Hospitals
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the New Jersey State Society of Anesthesiologists (NJSSA) applaud a ruling by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, which upholds a New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) regulation requiring anesthesiologists to be present when nurse anesthetists deliver anesthesia in hospitals.
“This critical decision puts the safety of patients in New Jersey first,” said ASA President John M. Zerwas, M.D. The regulation requires the “presence of an anesthesiologist during induction, emergence and critical change in status” when an Advanced Practice Nurse/Anesthesia (APN/A) administers general or major regional anesthesia, conscious sedation or minor regional blocks in a hospital.
The case, New Jersey Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Inc. v. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, was argued on October 1, 2012. The court’s December 12, 2012 decision referenced previous case law holding that the administration of anesthesia is the practice of medicine. The court also highlighted it was within NJDOH’s authority to “recognize the differences in education, training and skill of APN/As and anesthesiologists in establishing hospital anesthesia staffing regulations.”
“NJSSA filed several briefs on the case and also presented arguments to the court, providing an important perspective for its deliberations,” said NJSSA President Mordechai Bermann, M.D. “Anesthesiologists are highly skilled physicians who have significantly longer and more extensive training than nurse anesthetists. We are able to make split-second medical decisions in the operating room. The ruling will help protect the quality of health care in our state.”
To learn more about the important role of physicians during the administration of anesthesia, please visit LifelinetoModernMedicine.com.