Sunday, March 8, 2015

California Says Anesthesiologists Are 20% Better Than CRNA's

So this is where all my ASA and CSA dues money goes. As part of its promotion of Physician Anesthesiologists Week back in January, The American Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Society of Anesthesiologists got State Senator Richard Pan to sponsor Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 4.

SCR 4 states that anesthesiologists have thousands of hours more training than nurse anesthetists. We are leaders in researching and promoting patient safety at every level of perioperative care. A survey conducted by the American Medical Association showed that patients overwhelmingly prefer an anesthesiologist to care for them over a CRNA. Even though anesthesia is now extremely safe, there is still a potential risk of unforeseen complications. When that happens, the extensive training and quick thinking of anesthesiologists should be present to handle the situation. And here's the kicker, "There is up to a 20 percent reduction in adverse events when physician anesthesiologists lead the anesthesia care team." Because of all these extensive advantages of anesthesiologists over CRNA's, the state of California declared January 11 through 17, 2015 Physician Anesthesiologist (sic) Week.

Aside from the fact that this resolution accidentally declared that the commemorative week applies to only a single unmentioned anesthesiologist, the statements that are made by the California Legislature are pretty incredible. There is a 20% reduction in adverse events when compared to CRNA's? Why hasn't that data been more widely publicized before? That is a pretty significant difference in patient care. The information should put a kibosh to the whole debate about CRNA's being able to practice safely without an anesthesiologist's supervisory role.

Unfortunately SCR 4 doesn't include a bibliography of the sources of its statements. The most likely origination was probably from the CSA itself, which fed this information to Sen. Pan. Since medical accuracy is not as important to politicians as monetary contributions, I suspect that the 20% number is probably more propaganda than truth. I'm so glad I contribute hundreds of dollars per year to my state society just so they can crow about passing some bogus commemorative week on my profession's behalf. Makes me feel a whole lot more secure about my line of work.

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