Seven organizations representing Illinois physicians and dentists have banded together to protest proposed legislation that would allow Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to administer anesthesia without the physical presence of a medical doctor or dentist.
Among the changes Illinois House Bill 2813 would make to the Nurse Practice Act would be that when a CRNA administers anesthesia, it would have to be as part of an agreed-upon plan with an anesthesiologist, surgeon, dentist or podiatrist, who would have to remain “available” during the procedure. Current regulations call for a CRNA to perform such procedures only under the physical supervision of such a professional.
The proposed changes are supported by the Illinois Association of Nurse Anesthetists but opposed by a new coalition that calls itself Preserve the Anesthesia Care Team (PACT) and includes the American College of Surgeons (Metro Chicago Chapter), American Society of Anesthesiologists, Illinois Dermatological Society, Illinois Society of Anesthesiologists, Illinois State Dental Society, Illinois Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS).
In a recently issued press release, PACT called the proposed new regulations part of “growing efforts to erode anesthesia care standards” and said it was launching a campaign to dispute what it characterizes as “myths” propagated by the other side. It also set up a new informational website.
The PACT release quotes a letter sent to State Rep. Anna Mueller (D-Elgin), who sponsored the bill in the House, from the American College of Surgeons, asserting that allowing anesthesia to be administered without a physician present puts patients at risk.
That sentiment is echoed in a position paper from the Illinois Medical Society.
“The delivery of anesthesia, as well as pain management is considered CRITICAL CARE, not primary care, and has its own set of complications," according to the paper. "When adverse events arise, they require immediate medical attention by physicians to prevent serious injury or death.”
Currently the bill has been sent back to the House Rules Committee and so was not voted on during the last legislative session, but PACT says it wants to be prepared when the next session opens.