The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is committed to promoting the vital importance of physician-led teams during the perioperative process. Recently, this critical conversation has emerged on large national platforms, shining a light on the evolving health care issue.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published “Battles Erupt Over the Filling of Doctors’ Shoes,” and the Los Angeles Times printed “State lacks doctors to meet demand of national healthcare law.” Both articles explored the growing use of non-physician medical staff to administer care normally limited to physicians. Additionally, Fox News aired a segment that stressed the safety risks associated with non-physician care, including nurse anesthetists to replace physicians.
In response to this increased media attention, ASA President John M. Zerwas, M.D. submitted letters to the editor in support of physician-led care to both the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Dr. Zerwas discussed the role of anesthesiologists as the leaders of Anesthesia Care Teams to provide the highest quality of care.
Patients understand the importance of physician-lead care. According to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) 2010 Truth in Advertising survey, 70 percent of patients expressed that they only wanted a medical doctor to administer and monitor their anesthesia levels and patient condition before and during surgery. The AMA’s findings were further supported by the ASA’s 2010 Vital Health survey in which nearly 80 percent of respondents said they wanted an anesthesiologist to administer the anesthesia for their surgeries.
As ASA members, we trust you are enthused this conversation has elevated to a national stage. We encourage all members to act now and become involved in influencing policymakers to make the best choice in the interest of patient safety by advancing this discussion.
Members can pen their own letters to editors of the Wall Street Journal (300-word limit) and the Los Angeles Times (150-word limit) to relay the level of interest in this issue. To directly reach policymakers to support physician-lead teams and legislation to protect patients, we recommend also contacting your state’s representative.