PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)— Alabama patients now have increased access to safe, affordable care with the signing today of HB 268 by Governor Kay Ivey. The law provides that, in addition to physicians and dentists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) may provide anesthesia care under the direction of or in coordination with a physician, podiatrist, or dentist.
The law further clarifies that the CRNA scope of practice includes ordering of medications and tests before, during, and after analgesia or anesthesia in accordance with the anesthesia plan.
“Removing barriers to CRNA practice will allow Alabama healthcare facilities to maximize their workforce and increase access to safe, affordable care for our patients,” said Wesley Canerday, CRNA, president of Alabama Association of Nurse Anesthetists (ALANA). “By signing this important legislation, Alabama recognizes that CRNAs are qualified to make decisions regarding all aspects of anesthesia care based on their education, licensure, and certification.”
Anesthesia services are provided solely by CRNAs in many of Alabama’s critical access hospitals offering surgical services, and in a majority of its rural hospitals.
The law also specifies that anesthesia care, when an anesthesiologist is not present, is provided by CRNAs “in coordination with” a physician, podiatrist, or dentist, defined as a working relationship in which “each contributes his or her respective expertise in the provision of patient care, which includes the discussion of patient treatment, diagnosis, and consultation.”
“The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) applauds Gov. Ivey for recognizing the important role CRNAs have in delivery of safe anesthesia care to the residents of Alabama,” said AANA President Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN. “Increased demand, limited resources, and the rural nature of the state dictate that a system capable of meeting the needs of all Alabama residents be maintained and this law provides that.”
As advanced practice nurses, CRNAs are members of one of the most trusted professions according to Gallup. CRNAs provide anesthesia care across all settings and in all patient populations and are the primary anesthesia providers in rural and underserved areas and on the battlefield in forward surgical teams. Because of their expertise in anesthesia delivery and management of critically ill patients, CRNAs have been a highly sought-after healthcare provider during the COVID-19 pandemic.