Anesthesia: Practice of Nursing and Practice of Medicine

State legislatures, through licensing laws, determine what is and is not the practice of medicine and what is and is not in the public’s best interest.  Licensing laws, however, do not create monopolies for professions.  Many professions are authorized to practice in the same, related, or similar fields and as a result have overlapping practice areas.  Because of this overlap, many areas of practice are not the exclusive province of one healthcare profession or solely the practice of “medicine.”  For example, anesthesia administration is a series of functions through which patients are rendered insensitive to pain; these functions can and do constitute the practices of nursing, dentistry, or medicine.  Courts have long recognized the administration of anesthesia by nurses as a proper nursing function.  Consequently, anesthesia administration is an area that is both the practice of medicine and the practice of nursing.
 
These previously published articles are intended for reference to gain a greater understanding of the role anesthesia care plays as a part of the practice of nursing and the practice of medicine.
 
Please note: These articles are not intended as legal advice nor are they advice on the law of any state. If legal advice is required, the services of a competent attorney should be sought.
 
 
 
The overlap between the practice of medicine and the practice of nursing
(February 1998)
 
The administration of anesthesia and the practice of medicine
(June 1990)