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Vital Health Report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Finds Americans Fear the Quality of Their Healthcare is on the Decline

ASA Offers Tips to Help Americans Make Informed Healthcare Decisions to Improve Their Vital Health and Medical Outcomes

Chicago — (December 9, 2010) 

Americans fear the quality of their healthcare is at risk, according to the Vital Health Report, a survey released today by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). The third installment of the survey finds that Americans expect the patient experience to deteriorate as a result of changes to the U.S. healthcare system. In fact, nearly one quarter of those surveyed feel less confident about the quality of their healthcare today than they did one year ago, and more than one third expect the average American’s Vital Health to worsen within the year.

“Many changes to the healthcare system have gone into effect in recent months and Americans have voiced their concerns in the third Vital Health Report, with more than half of respondents expressing pessimism about the future of U.S. healthcare,” said John F. Dombrowski, M.D., with the American Society of Anesthesiologists. “Anesthesiologists work tirelessly to keep patients safe and produce optimal medical outcomes. Because better health results in better medical outcomes, the ASA encourages all Americans to improve their Vital Health by making informed decisions about their healthcare.”

Less Physician Access May Decrease Standards of Care and Threaten Americans’ Vital Health
Americans want access to physicians, yet Vital Health Report respondents believe that changes to the healthcare system may lead to lower standards of care.

  • Three quarters of respondents believe that having access to their physician has a positive impact on their Vital Health, yet more than half of respondents (52 percent) are concerned that they have will less time to spend with their physicians.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) believe less qualified individuals will administer medical procedures previously conducted by physicians.
  • Survey respondents would generally prefer to have a physician administer a wide variety of medical procedures over other medical professionals including general anesthesia (73 percent), routine check-ups (64 percent), regional anesthesia (60 percent), an epidural during labor and delivery (59 percent) and local anesthesia (38 percent).
  • Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents want an anesthesiologist to administer the anesthesia for their surgeries.
  • Almost three quarters of survey respondents expressed concern that in certain states nurses provide anesthesia without a supervising physician.

Changes to the U.S. Healthcare System Are Not Well Understood – and are Often Unknown
While Americans have been trying to follow the changes to the healthcare system, many are unaware of the specific changes that may have a direct impact on their quality of care.

  • More than three quarters of Vital Health respondents have been paying at least a moderate amount of attention to the news regarding the changes to the U.S. healthcare system, yet many of them do not fully understand these changes.
  • Nearly half of all respondents (46 percent) assume the person administering their medical procedures is a physician.
  • The majority of people surveyed (77 percent) are not sure if they live in a state that allows nurses to administer anesthesia without a physician’s supervision, commonly referred to as opt-out states.

The ASA offers Americans the following tips to help make informed healthcare decisions that can improve their Vital Health both in the short- and long-term.

  • Learn about the changes to the healthcare system at
  • Visit to become educated about your healthcare options.
  • If you have additional questions about how the changes to the healthcare system will affect you, contact your health insurance provider.

The Vital Health Survey was administered online November 2-3, 2010 to 1,036 Americans split evenly between men and women age 18+. The survey consisted of 29 questions. 



Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at . To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Like ASA on Facebook , follow ASALifeline on Twitter and follow ASA on LinkedIn .



American Society of Anesthesiologists