Doctors Fight to Retain Anesthesia Oversight in New Jersey

01 Nov

In New Jersey, there is a dispute going on between doctors and the state’s health department over the fact that the state is now allowing nurse anesthetists to sedate patients in hospitals without having a doctor present. Many doctors are angered by this move.

Currently, the rules require nurse anesthetists to work under direct supervision of an anesthesiologist. However, that is set to change now that the state health department is proposing to let the nurses work unassisted – they just need to be able to reach a doctor if necessary.

According to the rule change it “potentially would allow the anesthesiologist to be out of the office on a golf course” said Roger Moore, an anesthesiologist and previously president of the New Jersey State Society of Anesthesiologists.

On the other side, you have nurse anesthetists who support the change.

“The argument that nurse anesthetists are undereducated is not supported by the data,” said Jamie Eisenberg, president of the New Jersey Association of Nurse Anesthetists Inc.

They cite a study that revealed no signs of complication or risks in 14 states with similar rules allowing nurses to provide anesthesia.

But doctors like Barry Gleimer, president of the Orthopedic Surgeons of New Jersey, have their doubts. He cites personal experience from an arthroscopy procedure he was involved with 10 years ago where he says the nurse anesthetist didn’t notice that the patient had turned blue.

“We’ve all been in the OR, when a nurse anesthetist reaches the end of her ability to treat the patient,” said Dr. Gleimer, an osteopath. “At that point, she hollers for an anesthesiologist to get her out of deep water.”