The Tribune Editorial Board frequently writes about activities in Springfield. But one concerning area of activity has been overlooked: the fate of team-based anesthesia care in Illinois.
Over the past year, multiple bills have been introduced that seek to dismantle traditional anesthesia care by allowing certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, to practice without physician supervision. We expect such legislation to be pushed again when the General Assembly reconvenes.
Team-based care forms the foundation of anesthesia practice, especially in the high-risk, fast-paced environment of the operating room. The importance of teamwork is critical: Better outcomes occur when we work together.
Recently, the World Health Organization stated that anesthesia should be provided, led or overseen by a physician anesthesiologist when and wherever possible. Removing the physician from anesthesia care puts patients at higher risk and diminishes the quality of care, yet costs don’t change.
In response to the legislation, those of us who want to keep the anesthesia team together have formed Preserve the Anesthesia Care Team PACT. You can visit the PACT website at pactillinois.org.
Everyone, from nurses to physician’s assistants, plays a role on the anesthesia team. Physician anesthesiologists, with significantly more education and training, a minimum of eight years (after college) including medical school, internship and specialized residency, should lead the team.