Colorado Supreme Court Affirms That Nurse Anesthetists Can Provide Anesthesia Care Without Physician Supervision in State Critical Care and Rural Hospitals

  • Jun 1, 2015

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2015  
For More Information Contact:   Lisa Pearson
Phone: (970) 823-2762
Denver, Colorado—In a victory for state nurse anesthetists, the Colorado Supreme Court has upheld the legality of Colorado’s 2010 opt-out from Medicare’s facility reimbursement rule requiring physician supervision of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), effectively ending the legal challenges by the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) and Colorado Medical Society (CMS).
The Supreme Court upheld former Gov. Bill Ritter’s opt-out from the Medicare reimbursement requirement, ruling that the challenge by the CSA and CMS was not predicated on the appropriate grounds to make the governor’s decision reviewable. CRNAs will therefore continue to provide anesthesia care without physician supervision in state critical care and rural hospitals per the opt-out.
“Colorado's scope of practice has always allowed for the independent administration of anesthesia by CRNAs,” said Sarah Fredrikkson, CRNA, DNAP, president of the Colorado Association of Nurse Anesthetists. “We are pleased that the continued independent practice of CRNAs will not be disrupted by the legal challenge of these physician groups,” Fredrikkson said, emphasizing that the opt-out ensures patient access to safe, cost-effective anesthesia care for all Coloradoans, especially in rural and other medically underserved communities.
The opt-out was strongly supported by the Colorado Hospital Association and the Colorado Nurses Association. It is consistent with a 2010 Institute of Medicine report recommending the removal of scope of practice barriers so that advanced practice nurses can practice to the full extent of their education and training. The opt-out also alleviates the misperception held by some physicians that their liability is increased when working with CRNAs.
About the Colorado Association of Nurse Anesthetists
The Colorado Association of Nurse Anesthetists (COANA) is a professional association of more than 450 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists practicing in Colorado.  COANA CRNAs provide anesthesia care in 99 percent of Colorado's counties and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural Colorado.