PARK RIDGE, Ill., July 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Medicare anesthesia
services rule released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) restores patient safety measures that were previously stripped
away by the Clinton administration, according to the American Society of
The new proposed rule published today in the Federal Register would
restore the long-standing Medicare requirement that anesthesia nurses must be
supervised by physicians. According to ASA President Neil Swissman, M.D.,
"For more than three years, anesthesiologists with other physicians and
literally hundreds of thousands of older adults have fought to maintain a
physician's involvement in safe critical care medicine that occurs before,
during and after surgery."
In December 1997, the Clinton administration proposed dropping the
supervision rule. In the waning days of his administration, President Clinton
approved the rule, but before becoming effective, it was quickly suspended
after President Bush was sworn into office last January.
"The new proposed rule reflects for the most part what ASA, the medical
community, patient advocates, senior citizens and members of Congress have
been supporting for more than three years, that the safest possible anesthesia
care a patient can receive is when a physician is involved in that care."
The newly proposed Conditions of Participation that every Medicare- and
Medicaid-approved health care facility must follow would maintain physician
supervision of anesthesia nurses in hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.
State governors could opt to have facilities in the state excluded from this
requirement, but only after meeting a set of criteria established by HHS. A
governor would have to:
-- Consult with the state boards of medicine and nursing or their
equivalents on access to and quality of anesthesia services;
-- Demonstrate that the change is consistent with state law; and
-- Show that the requested change is in the best interest of the citizens
of that state.
According to the July 5 rule, HHS's Agency for Health Research and Quality
(AHRQ) will design and conduct a prospective patient safety study or set up a
monitoring system that will assess patient outcomes relating to the
involvement of nurse anesthetists.
"Since the rule change was first proposed more than three years ago, ASA
has advocated for a patient outcomes study," Dr. Swissman said. "We
congratulate HHS for developing the framework for a workable compromise that
keeps patient safety first. Any governor who might consider opting out of the
federal supervision requirement should bear in mind the importance of waiting
until the AHRQ study is completed."
HHS will accept public comments on the rule until September 4 and is
expected to release its final rule by mid-November.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) represents more than
36,000 physicians dedicated to patient safety and quality medical care.
Founded in 1905, ASA is a scientific and educational association of
anesthesiologists that was organized to advance the practice of anesthesiology
and to improve the quality of care of the anesthetized patient. It is the
largest organization of anesthesiologists in the world.
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SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists