December 13, 2016
VA APRN Rule Excludes Nurse Anesthetists
Dear Colleagues -
I write to you with very positive news about the successful results of our efforts to carve out or exclude nurse anesthetists from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) "Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)" final rule. On December 14, VA issued the final rule that includes a specific exclusion of nurse anesthetists from the full practice authority model of care. The final rule effectively preserves VA's current physician-led, team-based model of care for anesthesia.
Over the 60-day comment period, VA received 223,296 comments on the proposed rule, with a majority of those in support of maintaining physician-led anesthesia care in VA. We are thrilled that VA has made the right decision for our nation's Veterans and for safe patient care. This decision represents an acknowledgment that nurse anesthetists are not the same as physician anesthesiologists - that the 8-9 years of postgraduate education and 14,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training undertaken by physician anesthesiologists makes a difference for patients. We salute VA for preserving the proven anesthesia team-based care model where physicians and nurses work together to provide the best care possible for our nation's Veterans.
During the comment period, I was extremely thankful to see robust advocacy by our physician community at www.SafeVACare.org. ASA members were active in their participation but also embraced our "1+5 Plan" through which we informed our families and communities and motivated them to take action also on behalf of Veterans' safety - thank you. As a result, VA reports that ASA provided an overwhelming majority of the comments on the anesthesia provision, with only 9,613 comments in support of full practice authority for nurse anesthetists.
VA has opened a new 30-day comment period to analyze whether any future action may be needed regarding access to anesthesia. ASA will be executing targeted outreach related to the comment period due to the specific nature of the information VA is seeking. To be clear, this comment period will not change the final rule and the issue is effectively closed for the foreseeable future - a win for Veterans and patient safety.
Thank you to each and every ASA member who was an advocate on this initiative, submitting comments, writing in your local newspaper or informing your community. Your efforts have made all the difference. Now, I ask you to join me in continuing to be an advocate for Veterans, our specialty, and our patients.
Chair, Safe VA Care Initiative
Read ASA’s statement here.
Read AANA’s statement here.
Read VA's statement here.