In early 2019, ASA became aware of a position statement by the New Hampshire Board of Nursing, authorizing nurse anesthetists to use the optional descriptors “nurse anesthesiologist” or “certified registered nurse anesthesiologist.” By issuing this position statement, with no formal rules process and no public comment period, the Board of Nursing permitted no public input on this critical issue. Issuing a formal position regarding use of optional professional descriptors within a health care profession should be given careful thought and consideration through either a formal rulemaking or legislative process.
ASA is supportive of the anesthesia and sedation services provided by nurse anesthetists working within the Anesthesia Care Team that are commensurate with their nursing education and training. Throughout ASA’s efforts to promote patient safety, ASA has always adhered to and strongly supported its policy within the ASA Statement on the Anesthesia Care Team as well as the American Medical Association’s policy that anesthesiology is the practice of medicine. To avoid unnecessary confusion by the public and especially patients and their families, ASA encourages nurse anesthetists to use only the descriptors that align with their nursing license, education and training, and national board certification such as “nurse anesthetist” or “certified registered nurse anesthetist”.
ASA is continuing to work closely with the New Hampshire Society of Anesthesiologists on this issue. ASA also strongly encourages state component societies to consider implementing effective truth in advertising laws to address potential similar issues in other states.