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American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Tells AMA: Promote Patient Care, Don’t Prevent It

  • Nov 20, 2017

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2017
For more information, contact: AANA Public Relations

Park Ridge, Illinois In response to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) latest attack on non-physician healthcare professionals who ensure millions of Americans access to safe, cost-effective healthcare each year, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) demands that the AMA focus its time and energy on promoting patient care rather than preventing it. 

“Patients across the United States, especially those in medically underserved areas of the country and the military, rely on non-physician providers such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) for excellent, timely healthcare,” said Bruce Weiner, DNP, MSNA, CRNA, president of the 52,000-member AANA. “Yet once again, here comes the AMA with its latest resolution seeking to prevent CRNAs and other highly qualified healthcare experts who are not medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathy (DOs) from caring for patients to the full scope of their education, training and licensure.”

AMA Resolution 214, (see page 14) which was initiated by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and recently approved by the AMA House of Delegates, proposes the creation of a national legislative, regulatory and public relations campaign to empower “physician stakeholders” to oppose independent practice for healthcare professionals who are not MDs or DOs. The ASA is the professional organization representing the nation’s physician anesthesia providers.

“It’s amazing to me that patients aren’t even an afterthought in the AMA/ASA resolution,” said Weiner. ”Nowhere in the negative, self-serving language of the resolution does one find the words ‘patient,’ ‘safety,’ ‘cost-effective,’ or ‘access to care,’ which speaks volumes to its makers’  collective aim. Healthcare should be patient-centered, not physician-centered, yet the resolution talks exclusively about how to protect physicians by diminishing other providers who patients count on for care.”

Weiner pointed out that in the specialty of anesthesiology the ASA is well known for its efforts to marginalize the scope of practice of nurse anesthetists. Yet every research study since 2000 has confirmed that CRNAs are as safe as and more cost-effective than their physician counterparts. Day in and day out, in hospitals, surgery centers, physicians’ offices, and other facilities, CRNAs are there for one purpose and one purpose only—to provide hands-on anesthesia care to patients of all ages and for every type of procedure that requires anesthesia. CRNAs are the foremost providers of pain relief to expectant mothers, the sole anesthesia professionals in most rural hospitals, and the primary providers of care to soldiers serving on the front lines of U.S. military actions around the world.  

The AMA, which represents barely 25 percent of the nation’s 950,000 physicians, has a long history of failed attempts to control the growth of independent practice by non-MD/DO providers.

“The truth is, physicians along with the wide variety of other highly qualified providers in the healthcare workforce are needed to satisfy the growing demand for safe, quality healthcare—a demand which will only continue to go up,” said Weiner. “There are so many confident physicians who have their eye on the future and who know that their roles are valued and their jobs and income are secure.  These physicians share the same goal as their non-MD/DO colleagues—to ensure that patients aren’t left wanting for needed healthcare services provided in a timely, compassionate manner. It makes one question all the more what the ASA and AMA’s motivation is behind Resolution 214, and whether they truly speak for the larger physician community.”  

Weiner said the AANA urges the AMA to reconsider Resolution 214 and instead work with, not against, their non-MD/DO colleagues to ensure patients across the United States receive the best, most timely, most cost-effective care possible.

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

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Chris Bettin, MA
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