WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The first-of-its-kind nationwide
survey of large-hospital administrators reveals a disturbing and dangerous
trend in U.S. hospitals, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)
According to ASA President Barry M. Glazer, M.D., "The survey shows that a
nationwide shortage of anesthesiologists is beginning to have a profound
effect in larger hospitals, delaying elective procedures, and in extreme
cases, closing down surgical suites."
Hospitals indicate that during the past three years, they have increased
the numbers of anesthesiologists in their facilities. Yet, almost one-half (47
percent) of the hospital administrators say they do not have an adequate
number of anesthesiologists on staff. Of those, 75 percent have seen an
increase in patients' surgery wait time. Two-thirds, meanwhile, have had to
limit access to operating rooms due to the lack of anesthesia providers.
The nationwide survey was administered among senior-level administrators
from hospitals with more than 100 beds. "Hospital administrators are
confirming what we have seen coming for some time," Dr. Glazer said. "What is
most chilling is that the administrators say that Medicare reimbursement rates
are restricting patients access to care."
Almost one-third of those surveyed say Medicare reimbursement rates are
having an impact on patients' access to surgical care. Even more, four out of
five express concern about the current rate Medicare pays for anesthesia
"Medicare is failing to fulfill one of its basic responsibilities," Dr.
Glazer said. "The national health care agency's continual payment cuts for
anesthesia services prevents a number of practices from being able to hire
sufficient numbers of anesthesia providers."
The survey has revealed some interesting details about who is providing
anesthesia care in large hospitals. In almost three-quarters (74 percent)
anesthesiologists and anesthesia nurses work together in what is called an
anesthesia care team. The remainder report that they use anesthesiologists
only. "This does provide the quantitative evidence that supports what we have
been saying: anesthesiologists are directly administering or directing the
anesthesia care in most surgical cases across the country," Dr. Glazer said.
"The scientific evidence is irrefutable, and it is time for Medicare or
Congress to take decisive steps to make sure that patients will receive the
safest possible anesthesia care from the most capable provider," Dr. Glazer
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