Health Discoveries in General Health News

More nurse anesthetists working without physician oversight

September 17, 2010
A study by the non-profit Research Triangle Institute reports that nurse anesthetists, increasingly working without physician oversight, present no greater risks to patients in surgery under those circumstances.

Nurse anesthetists are generally required to be supervised by an anesthesiologist or surgeon in order to qualify for Medicare reimbursement, but states are allowed to "opt out" of the requirement by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The North Carolina-based research team analyzed more than 480,000 hospitalizations between 1999 and 2005 and found the frequency of nurse anesthesthetists working without physician supervision is on the rise.

In both opt-out states and non-opt-out states, the researchers found no increased risk of patient death and no significant difference in patient outcomes in three different scenarios - certified registered nurse anesthetists working without physician supervision, anesthesiologists working alone or both medical professionals working together. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Huntington Hospital, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, is the first Long Island hospital to earn Magnet status for excellence in nursing services twice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center bases inclusion in its Magnet Recognition Program on a wide range of work conditions and nursing practices at a medical facility.
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