Physician anesthesiologists are guardians of patient safety, uniquely educated and trained for the critical moments in health care — in the operating room, in the delivery room, in the intensive care unit, and in a crisis. No other type of practitioner can match their ability to navigate life-and-death moments in patient care. Physician anesthesiologists are made for these moments.
As medical doctors, physician anesthesiologists specialize in anesthesia care, pain management, and critical care medicine, bringing the knowledge required to treat the entire body. Their education and training includes 12 to 14 years of education, including medical school, and 12,000 to 16,000 hours of clinical training to specialize in anesthesia care and pain control.1 Removing physician supervision from anesthesia in surgery lowers the standard of care and jeopardizes patients’ lives.
Say “Yes” to High-Quality Patient Care
Removing physician supervision from anesthesia care in surgery jeopardizes patient safety. A physician anesthesiologist’s education and training can mean the difference between life and death when a medical complication occurs.
In fact, physician anesthesiologists often prevent complications by using their diagnostic skills to evaluate a patient’s overall health, and identify and respond to underlying medical conditions. They evaluate, monitor, and supervise patient care before, during, and after surgery, delivering anesthesia, leading the Anesthesia Care Team, and ensuring optimal patient safety.
Nurse anesthetists are qualified members of an Anesthesia Care Team, but they can’t replace a physician and have about half the education and only 2,500 hours of clinical training.
• Nurse anesthetists are trained to administer anesthesia, but do not have the medical education or clinical training to make critical decisions during surgery.
• There are no independent studies that show nurses can ensure the same outcomes as physician anesthesiologists.
• Recent research also shows that removing physician supervision does not increase patient access to surgery, procedures, or anesthesia care.3-6
• Current laws in 45 states and the District of Columbia all require physician involvement for anesthesia care.
• Nine in 10 surgeons consider physician anesthesiologists the most capable in diagnosing and treating complications during surgery.
• Nine in 10 consumers believe that physician-led care improves health care, nearly half say empowering nurses leads to worse care.
• The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decided to maintain its patient-centered, physician-led model of anesthesia care where physicians and nurse anesthetists work together as a team.
• Allowing nurses to administer anesthesia without physician supervision does not save patients or taxpayers money. Medicare, Medicaid, and most third-party insurers pay the same fees for anesthesia whether it is administered by a nurse anesthetist or physician anesthesiologist.
• Eliminating the physician anesthesiologist can actually cost more, as other physicians may be needed to consult or provide the services a physician anesthesiologist would: assessing pre-existing conditions or handling emergencies and other medical issues before, during, and after medical procedures.
LSA would like to hear from you! We’d like for you to share your pictures, stories, and/or videos about why you chose to be a Physician Anesthesiologist. We will share this on our social media and web site.
“When you are sound asleep, my mind is wide awake”
Dr. Julie G. Broussard is a Physician Anesthesiologist and medical director of Anesthesiology for the Ochsner Lafayette General System in Acadiana. She began her career as a licensed pharmacist before pursuing a medical degree, and then specialized in the field of anesthesiology. Dr. Broussard has been board certified for nearly 15 years, and has been awarded the highest distinction in her society as a Fellow of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. This week we celebrate all physician anesthesiologists and Dr. Broussard tells us why she is made for this moment.
“Because of our years of education, training and experience, anesthesiologists were uniquely situated to help lead the efforts to coordinate care for critical Covid-19 patients. This role was definitely needed when so many of our nation’s intensive care units were filled to capacity. During the beginning of pandemic, I served my hospital and community by creating novel processes and protocols in a situation that no one had never encountered before. My goal was to ensure that each patient would get the individualized care they deserved, during a time when all types of resources were scarce. As anesthesiologists, we always have a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan. It was this type of thinking that was needed to prepare for the unpredictable surge of patients during different waves of this Crisis. As a physician anesthesiologist, I have detail-oriented, critical thinking skills as well as the ability to quickly adjust and try something different when necessary; I truly believe I was made for this moment.”
Julie Broussard RPh, MD FASA
Ochsner Lafayette General
As the world faced a global health care crisis, physician anesthesiologists took their experience from the operating room into the critical care setting to lead care for the sickest of COVID-19 patients. Physician anesthesiologists hung up their surgical caps to head to the ER to serve as airway management experts when hospitals needed them the most, collaborated and innovated with their peers, and addressed the realities of the pandemic with bravery and compassion.
Education, Training, and Experience Can Mean the Difference Between Life and Death
You wouldn’t board a plane without a qualified pilot, and you shouldn’t receive anesthesia during surgery without physician supervision. Physician anesthesiologists developed the techniques and protocols that have greatly improved the safety of anesthesia, and no one knows as much about delivering the highest-quality medical care and ensuring patients’ safety under anesthesia as these highly trained physicians.
Some nurses are now pursuing doctorate degrees or Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees (DNPs). The DNP is not equivalent to a Doctor of Medicine degree or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree and the DNP “will not alter the current scope of practice for APRNs (advanced practice registered nurses),” according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. No state boards of nursing have mandated the DNP as a requirement for nurse anesthetists. The DNP will be required for entry-level nurse anesthetist programs by 2025.
Quality Care Matters Most of All
An independent outcomes study published in the peer-reviewed Anesthesiology® journal found that the presence of a physician anesthesiologist prevented 6.9 excess deaths per 1,000 cases in which an anesthesia or surgical complication occurred.7 Surveys also repeatedly show patients want physicians in charge.
Nurse anesthetists often advocate that substituting nurses for physicians cuts costs without increasing patient deaths or complications. However, there are no definitive, independent studies that confirm nurse anesthetists can ensure the same quality of care, patient safety, and outcomes at less cost when working without physician supervision.
Take Action—Protect Patients
Advocate for patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care to ensure the highest-quality and safest medical care. Patients deserve no less. Who do you want providing medical care for you, your family, or a loved one in the moments that matter most?
Let’s Get the Word out!
Make people aware of Physician’s Anesthesiology week. Post to all your social media accounts the PAW imagery we have below. Would you like your logo added? No problem. Email Janna your logo and we will gladly add your logo to the PAW imagery FREE!
Share your Story to ASA!
Making Your Messages Resonate with Made for This Moment Stories
More than any data, research, or study, stories demonstrate the importance of patient-centered, physician-led care in a memorable way that resonates with legislators. Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication, used to help convey complex topics, evoke emotion, and inspire people to take action.
All ASA members have stories of lives they saved and how their education and training made a dramatic difference in patient outcomes—stories that highlight their role as guardians of patient safety. Whether providing critical care during COVID-19, relieving suffering for chronic pain patients, or stepping in when a routine procedure becomes an emergency, these stories support key messages and highlight how the specialty’s involvement can mean the difference between life and death and that physician anesthesiologists are made for these moments.
Make sure your story supports key messages, and keep these key elements in mind:
- Include the five key storytelling elements: Who (the characters), what (the plot), when/where (the setting), why (context), and a positive ending.
- Be visual. Using descriptive words will help paint a vivid picture for your audience. “A little boy who loved baseball so much he wanted to bring his mitt into the operating room” is far more descriptive than just “a little boy.”
- Avoid jargon and big words. Remember your audience’s knowledge about your topic is limited. Try to avoid using clinical terms they may not understand; tell a story as you would to an 8-year-old.
- Be passionate. Storytelling is most effective when you elicit emotion. Delivering your story in a passionate way allows you to connect with people on a deeper level, humanizing the medical specialty while building credibility.
- Keep it short. Brevity is better. Practice telling your story in one to two minutes.
Visit https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/stories/ to see ASA members and patients tell their stories. Then develop your own story, practice it out loud, refine it, share it with colleagues and friends, and submit to janna and we will use it in our meeting. You also can submit it on the Made for This Moment website, tell it to other policymakers, or share it with a hospital administrator.