December 10, 2020
NH Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Regarding Misleading Term “Nurse Anesthesiologist”
On Tuesday, December 8, the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the New Hampshire Board of Medicine’s (BOM) declaratory ruling prohibiting use of the term “anesthesiologist” in an individual’s professional title unless that person is licensed by the BOM as a physician. The New Hampshire Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (who recently changed its name from the “New Hampshire Association of Nurse Anesthetists”) sought to vacate the BOM declaratory ruling. Attorneys representing the BOM and the New Hampshire Society of Anesthesiologists / New Hampshire Medical Society argued in part that the Board is within its jurisdictional and statutory authority to issue such a ruling as it speaks to use of a term where one is holding themselves out as practicing medicine. A decision from the Court is expected in the next 3-6 months which will either affirm, reject or remand the BOM’s declaratory ruling.
In July of this year, ASA, in conjunction with AMA, submitted a joint amicus curiae brief
urging the Court to uphold the BOM’s declaratory ruling. Separate briefs supporting the same position were also filed by the New Hampshire Society of Anesthesiologists/New Hampshire Medical Society and the American Board of Medical Specialties/the American Board of Anesthesiology. Truth in advertising legislation was introduced in the State Senate earlier this year to address this issue and prevent use of the misleading “nurse anesthesiologist” term/descriptor. However, progress on this bill remains on hold pending a decision by the Court.