Nationwide Anesthesiologist Shortage Delays Patients' Surgery
Declining Anesthesia Medicare Reimbursement Cited As Major Factor For Shortage
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) announced today. 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 services. "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 noted. 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. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X74265808
SOURCE American Society of Anesthesiologists
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