Nurse Anesthesiologists: A Case Study

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Prior to 2001, CRNA’s were required to be supervised directly by anesthesiologists. When providing medical reimbursement, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required CRNA’s to be supervised by physicians. Changing laws and regulations have allowed CRNA’s to have more responsibility in their job settings. As states individually determine nurse anesthetist regulations-- allowing CRNA’s to replace anesthesiologists in hospitals-- the issue may be more about the power of decision rather than patient outcomes. Many CRNA’s are working directly with patients and staff unsupervised. In a Health Affairs web article, Brian Dulisse and Jerry Cromwell explain that, “In 2001 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services …show more content…
Anesthesiologists often argue that their training is superior to that of a CRNA. Anesthesiologists suggest that residency programs and medical school better prepare them for their careers. Although this is a common misconception, CRNA’s and anesthesiologists are trained in a similar settings with similar instruction. As medical technology has advanced, the success rate has increased in anesthesia care. Due to improved methods of monitoring vital signs and blood oxygen levels, anesthesia care jobs have become easier to manage, and success rate in the career has increased. According to a study published in an AANNA journal, “Success in reducing anesthesia-related mortality has been exemplary, with current estimates of death rates as low as 1 death per 200,000 to 300,000 cases” (Pine, Holt, and Lou 109). Nurse anesthetists are often for reduced supervision, although some are against it due to increased liability. When a state opts out, it provides nurse anesthetists with opportunities to work unsupervised practice in rural areas, saves time from not having to be consulted by a physician, and provides CRNA’s more opportunities to make money from working more cases. Hiring CRNA’s over anesthesiologists is more economical. According to Dr. Jeffrey Parks’s article, “In the long run, there also could be savings to the health …show more content…
With the two professions combining and becoming less defined, the CRNA job is declining. If one can simply train a nurse anesthetist to do the job of an anesthesiologist, then there is no need for nurse anesthetists. If CRNA’s and anesthesiologists were to combine into the same job, the anesthesiologist’s salary would decline. With the job title “nurse anesthetist” eliminated, hospitals would have to hire multiple anesthesiologists to do anesthesia care. Considering that nurse anesthetists would then study to become anesthesiologists, a high supply of anesthesiologists would result in lower salaries. This is driving the conflict between nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists. They both want to keep their jobs. Just as combining the two jobs is a solution to an economic struggle, better defining a nurse anesthetists’ restrictions would also be a beneficial

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