CHICAGO – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) applauds Congressman David Scott (GA-13), Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) and Congressman Andrew Garbarino (NY-02) for the introduction of the Protect Lifesaving Anesthesia Care for Veterans Act and urges the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to retain the Anesthesia Care Team model currently used in VA –– where physician anesthesiologists lead a team of nurse anesthetists to provide care to Veterans. ASA opposes any effort to eliminate highly trained physician anesthesiologists from the surgical teams taking care of Veterans. The data is clear, such a change will put the health and lives of Veterans at risk.
Veterans are generally older and sicker than non-VA patients. Many Veterans suffer from medical conditions associated with military service, such as Agent Orange and burn pit exposure, and are at greater risk for complications during surgery. The involvement of a physician anesthesiologist with expertise to prevent and respond to these complications is imperative.
The Protect Lifesaving Anesthesia Care for Veterans Act is a bipartisan bill that aims to ensure Veterans in need of surgical anesthesia continue to receive the same standard of care available to non-Veteran patients at the nation’s top-rated hospitals.
“Veterans have earned and deserve the highest quality, safest care our nation can provide,” said ASA President Randall M. Clark, M.D., FASA. “The VA’s over two thousand physician anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists have worked together for decades to take care of Veterans. VA’s proposal to remove the physician anesthesiologist – medical experts in anesthesia – from the team is ill-advised, unnecessary, and counter to the interest of the patients the VA has pledged to serve. ASA is proud to support this important legislation.”
Physician anesthesiologists have twice the education and five times the hours of clinical training of nurses. They receive 12 to 14 years of education, including rigorous medical school, and 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training to specialize in anesthesia care and pain control, with the necessary knowledge to understand and treat the entire human body. Nurse anesthetists are qualified members of the Anesthesia Care Team, but they can’t replace a physician. They do not attend medical school and have about half the education of a physician anesthesiologist and only 2,500 hours of clinical training.
ASA applauds Reps. Scott, Turner and Garbarino for their leadership on this issue.
About the American Society of Anesthesiologists
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 55,000 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 and follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
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