Physicians oppose legislation to allow nurses to administer anesthesia

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— A group of physicians is pleading with the Michigan Senate to reject a proposed legislation which allows registered nurses to administer anesthesia without physician supervision across the state. 

13 physicians spoke at a virtual Zoom press conference regarding House Bill 4359. 

“This legislation will create a two-tier system of care in Michigan and worsen healthcare disparities,” said Pino D. Colone, MD, President of the Michigan State Medical Society.

Dr. Colone is pleading Michigan Lawmakers to reject the legislation amid educational requirements, and medical training that Anesthesiologists have.

“Anesthesiologists typically undergo at least 12 years of education and medical training,” Dr. Colone stated.

Registered nurses in order to administer anesthesia must have specific educational requirements as well.

“A bachelor of science in nursing, practice in an ICU with ventilators for at least two years,” said State Representative Mary Whiteford, “and then they have a 4 year doctorate program that is 100 percent focused on the science of anesthesia.”

Whiteford was a former nurse and introduced House Bill 4359, and says under Michigan’s current system any physician can give permission to administer anesthesia. Whiteford also says a group of nurses came to her saying the oversight committee was unnecessary, and that’s when she decided to help create the bill.

“In Michigan currently the supervision that’s involved is not from an anesthesiologist it’s from any person that has an MD after their name,” Whiteford said, “it could be a pediatrist; it could be a gastrologist, and many of these doctors who practice in other fields, and have no experience in anesthesia.”

The bill has passed the Michigan House, and it’s now it’s in the Michigan Senate for an overall vote.

“If the bill passes nurses will be solely responsible for the entire planning and administration of anesthesia care and its complications and diagnosis of patients with no physician involved,” said Neeju Ravikant, M.D., President Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists.

“It will increase inequalities with one care of standard for urban and rural centers,” Dr. Colone said, “and one standard for care for everyone else.”

There are only five states that let registered nurses administer anesthesia, and the other 45 states have some type of physician oversight.

The bill says there needs to be a plan of care for nurses administering anesthesia, and they need to be nurse anesthetists. 

House Bill 4359 is in the Michigan Senate for an overall vote to see if it can go into Michigan law.

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