Latest VA Policy Receives Heated Backlash

Lifestyle, Politics
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By American Society of  Anesthesiologists, Special for USDR

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 atrisk.

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 safeanesthesia.

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 forcomplications.

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 thanoptimal.”

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 fromsurgery.

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

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

Diane Zumatto
National Legislative Director

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

WHEN & Wednesday, June 1 at 9 a.m.EST

WHERE: National Press Club, Zenger Room, 549 14th St., N.W., Washington, DC
To join the press conference by webcast or teleconference, please contact:

Theresa Hill
Director of Public Relations
American Society of Anesthesiologists
O: (847) 268-9246
C: (773) 330-5273

LaSandra Cooper
Senior Public Relations Manager
American Society of Anesthesiologists
O: (847) 268-9106
C: (708) 650-2886

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

SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists

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