AANA Updates

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Challenges Anthem on New Anesthesia Policy That Puts Patient Safety at Risk

  • Mar 19, 2018

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2018
For more information, contact: AANA Public Relations

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has expressed its strong opposition to the recent decision by health insurer Anthem, Inc., which directs ophthalmologists to assume responsibility for anesthesia administration and patient monitoring during routine cataract surgeries, calling the move a “dangerous and reckless policy that jeopardizes the safety and well-being of millions of patients, all in an effort to cut costs and increase profits.” The AANA represents more than 52,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), anesthesia experts who frequently provide patient care during eye procedures.

“While cataract surgeries are generally routine,” said Bruce Weiner, DNP, MSNA, CRNA, president of the AANA, “any surgical procedures that require anesthesia, especially those involving hypersensitive areas like the eyes, call for highly educated anesthesia professionals like CRNAs to administer medication and monitor patients properly without distraction.”

Amongst seniors, cataract extraction and lens placement is a common procedure. Weiner says that this population is also at greatest risk for complications due to an increase in comorbidities such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease. “For this reason the AANA is gravely concerned about not having an anesthesia professional such as a CRNA providing anesthesia care during cataracts surgery,” Weiner said. “It is neither practical nor safe for ophthalmologists to simultaneously perform surgery, administer anesthesia and monitor patient conditions.”

“Just like ophthalmology, anesthesiology is a complex science, requiring years of education, training and experience to ensure proper and safe practice,” Weiner said. “Ophthalmologists are no more qualified to administer anesthesia than CRNAs are to perform cataract surgery.

AANA joins a growing number of medical associations and patient safety groups that have come out against Anthem’s policy change.

“In 2015 alone, 3.6 million people underwent cataract surgery. With a proper patient care team in place, cataract surgery can be one of the safest and most effective surgeries today,” Weiner said. “Anthem’s new policy, however, puts millions of people at risk for serious eye injury or worse by asking ophthalmologists to manage two very intricate procedures at the same time.”

For more information on CRNAs’ approach to providing safe and cost-effective anesthesia care, please visit www.future-of-anesthesia-care-today.com.

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