CHICAGO – Medical title misappropriation is an ongoing concern in health care, and this week the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists made the decision to deceive patients by formally changing its name to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology. The American Society of Anesthesiologists condemns AANA’s organizational name change and encouragement of its members’ use of the term “nurse anesthesiologist,” which will confuse patients and create discord in the care setting, ultimately risking patient safety.
“Many physician anesthesiologists value our nurse anesthetist colleagues and the important work all of us do together every day. We also know nurse anesthetists value and recognize the importance of our physician-led, team-based model of care—a model ASA is dedicated to preserve and enhance along with our shared commitment to patients,” said ASA President Beverly K. Philip, M.D., FACA, FASA. “AANA’s title misappropriation is a deceptive use of established medical terms and is part of their continuing push for nurse-only practice, which can jeopardize our patients’ safety and well-being. It also misleads the public and engages in the pretense that nurse anesthetists’ education and training are equivalent to that of physicians.”
It is an unchallenged ethical principle that every patient must have full knowledge and understanding of the education, training, skills and experience of the health care professionals who provide their care. Throughout the medical and nursing communities and certifying boards, “anesthesiology” and “anesthesiologist” are accepted as the terms for a medical specialty and a medical physician:
- ASA, the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Medical Association affirm that anesthesiology is a medical specialty and professionals who refer to themselves as “anesthesiologists” must hold a license to practice medicine.
- The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a ruling in March 2021 by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine to limit the use of the term “anesthesiologist” to individuals licensed to practice medicine.
- The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs defines “anesthesiologist” as a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who has successfully completed an approved anesthesiology residency program.
- The World Health Organization views “anesthesiology as a medical practice” that should be directed and supervised by an anesthesiologist.
“We will continue to fight medical title misappropriation at every level and in every arena,” Dr. Philip said. “While we recognize the value of our nurse anesthetist colleagues, ASA will not allow AANA leadership to continue their harmful initiatives.”
Learn the facts about medical title misappropriation here.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 54,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/MadeforThisMoment. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
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