On April 21st, Governor Ducey signed a significant update to CRNA scope of practice, specifically in regards to surgeon liability and prescriptive authority.
SB 1336 makes Arizona the first state in the nation to explicitly state that surgeons and physicians working with CRNAs cannot be held liable for the acts or omissions for CRNAs.
Who are the real beneficiaries of this new law? Let's find out.
Patients. Patients benefit from a more open healthcare system that promotes accessible and cost-effective surgical care, promoting competition, reduced cost, and care that is closer to home - while still maintaining the highest quality of anesthesia care from CRNAs and physicians alike. Hospital CEOs and surgeons both testified that the outdated language added to a false perception of liability for surgeons, hurting their ability to care for patients.
Surgeons. Surgeons will have a eliminated source of liability based on state law when a CRNA is overseeing the anesthetic and perioperative management. Notably, nearly 100 surgeons and physicians supported SB 1336. Here's a snippet of that support.
Facilities. Facilities will now have more flexibility to choose an anesthesia delivery model that works for their facility and their patients. All models have been proven relaible and safe, but the choice of model can have a substantial effect on hospital budgets.
Physician and CRNA business owners. Business owners as well as physicians and CRNAs who oversee anesthesia departments will now be able to utilize CRNAs and their scope of practice more effectively in all models of anesthesia delivery. Many individual physicians anesthesiologists publically supported SB 1336. Here's an example: (download) (direct link).
Arizona’s Healthcare System. As Arizona utilizes all members of the healthcare team to the fullest extent of their training, costs will be driven down - from tax dollars spent on training to facility dollars spent on subsidies; access will go up, especially in the areas where it is needed most. Facilities can save money by reduced subsidies to anesthesia groups that begin to utilize the full scope of education and training of their CRNAs. Further, it's well known that utilizing APRNs to their full scope can have an economic benefit for state economies (download report) (summary).
CRNAs. As healthcare costs rise and more stakeholders understand the high quality of care thatCRNAs offer, and with over 40% of CRNAs working practicing independently - more and more CRNAs are being questioned about surgeon liability. SB 1336 makes clear in state law what we already knew from case law - that surgeon cannot be held liable for the acts or omissions of a CRNA. Additionally, SB 1336 restores prescriptive authority for CRNAs.
SB 1336 is part of a larger effort to ensure patients get the care they need in season of major healthcare reform, and to make sure all healthcare professionals and teams can deliver maximum benefit to patients. This effort has attracted support from groups on the left and right, the prestigious Institute of Medicine (download report) (summary), think tanks such as the RAND Group, and others.
AZANA is committed to building teams that deliver the highest quality of anesthesia care, and our work isn't done - but SB 1336 was one significant step in the right direction.
Authored by: Joseph A. Rodriguez, AZANA President
Last update: 6/1/17