ASA Disagrees With Proposed Change To VA Guidelines

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Veterans in Wisconsin might be interested to hear that the American Society of Anesthesiologists is against a proposed changed to the Veterans Health Administration guidelines. They are calling the new draft ill-conceived and state that it would jeopardize patient safety.

The new guidelines suggest that nurse anesthetists would practice without licensed anesthesiologists or physicians supervising them, throwing the concept of team-based anesthesia care out the window. The ASA says that the new guidelines would decrease the quality of care provided in VA hospitals by expanding the service of advanced nurse practitioners. This could lead to more errors and incidents of medical malpractice.

Some say that the language in the amended handbook is vague enough to raise some questions. For instance, it doesn’t detail the procedure-specific details for any of the advanced nursing roles. The new president for the ASA stated that she herself was a certified registered nurse anesthetist before she became a physician and that the two positions are in no way equivalent. CRNAs only receive five to seven years of training for their positions, whereas physician anesthetists receive 12 to 14 for theirs. The doctor also went on to say that most CRNAs do not even have college degrees.

There is also the federal-state law conflict to consider. While only one state currently mandates that CRNAs have physician supervision, VA clinics operate within the federal scope. Therefore, federal policies would trump state ones. If an anesthesia error does occur in a clinic, the patient would be the one to suffer the most severe consequences. In these situations, a personal injury attorney may help the patient by filing a medical malpractice suit.

Source: Anesthesiology News, “ASA blasts proposed change to VA Nursing guidelines“, Adam Marcus, October 04, 2013