Press Briefing Denouncing Dangerous VA Policy Change to Replace Physician Anesthesiologists with Nurses in Surgery

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Nursing Profession News J E 4

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physician anesthesiologists and Veterans announce opposition to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposed policy that removes physician anesthesiologists from surgery and replaces them with nurses, and urge the public to protect safe VA care by telling the VA to reject this policy. Without physician involvement in anesthesia care, the VA will lower the standard of care for Veterans and put their health and lives at risk.

WHY: The policy change is based on a shortage of some types of physicians in VA. However, there is no shortage of physician anesthesiologists and the change is not needed to improve access to anesthesia care in surgery. The policy would abandon a proven model of care where physician anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists work together as a team to provide Veterans high-quality and safe anesthesia.

Surgery and anesthesia are inherently dangerous, requiring physician involvement, especially for VA patients who often are sicker and have multiple medical conditions that put them at greater risk for complications.

The VA's own internal evaluation of the relevant studies regarding health outcomes of patients receiving care from nurse anesthetists practicing independently concluded that the evidence was biased and insufficient to support making a policy change. VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) could not discern "whether more complex surgeries can be safely managed by CRNAs, particularly in small or isolated VA hospitals where preoperative and postoperative health system factors may be less than optimal."

HOW: The proposed policy change was posted to the Federal Register May 25 and is open for public comment for 60 days. The American Society of Anesthesiologists urges every American who cares about safe VA care and protecting the health and lives of the nation's Veterans to visit and post a comment to stop VA from removing physician anesthesiologists from surgery. 

WHO: Daniel J. Cole, M.D.President, American Society of Anesthesiologists

Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D.Past President, American Society of AnesthesiologistsFormer Nurse Anesthetist

Diane ZumattoNational Legislative DirectorAMVETS

Samuel V. Spagnolo, M.D. (tentative)President, National Association of Veterans Affairs Physicians and Dentists                 

WHEN & WHERE: Wednesday, June 1 at 9 a.m. EDTNational Press Club, Zenger Room, 549 14th St., N.W., Washington, DCTo join the press conference by webcast or teleconference:

Dial In:Toll free participants: 800-671-7032International/Toll line: +1 303 223 4368


More information about the proposed policy and physician anesthesiologists is available at


To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists



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