Newswise — The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the Arkansas Society of Anesthesiologists (ARSA) strongly oppose SB 184 and HB 1283, which will dismantle the anesthesia care team model in Arkansas by allowing nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia without physician supervision. HB 1283 will also allow nurse anesthetists to provide analgesics, opening the door for nurses to provide powerful pain-relieving drugs such as opioids.

A survey of 600 registered voters in Arkansas conducted Feb. 14-16, clearly found voters in Arkansas want a physician involved in administering anesthesia and responding to anesthesia emergencies during surgery.

  • 86 percent of respondents said they want a physician to administer anesthesia or respond to an anesthesia emergency if they decided to have surgery.
  • When provided with the education and training associated with a physician anesthesiologist and a nurse anesthetist, 80 percent of voters said they would want to have the physician anesthesiologist administer anesthesia.
  • 71 percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about the anesthesia they would receive and who would be responding to anesthesia emergencies if they needed surgery.
  • 78 percent noted that it is extremely or very important that a nurse administering anesthesia or responding to an emergency during surgery work with a physician.
  • When thinking about the possibility of being treated for long-term pain, 77 percent of respondents want a physician trained in pain medicine to care for them.

ASA and ARSA urge the Arkansas House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee to vote no on SB 184 and HB 1283. These bills are in direct opposition of what Arkansas voters want from their health care system. Additionally, they will lower the standard of care and jeopardize the lives of Arkansans receiving anesthesia and pain medicine.

“Despite advances in medicine and patient safety, surgery and anesthesia are inherently dangerous,” said ASA President Linda Mason, M.D., FASA. “Physician anesthesiologists are highly skilled medical experts who have the education and training to make critical decisions in an emergency. People want a physician to administer their anesthesia or respond in an emergency.”

 “At a time when the country is combating a prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic, this does not seem to be the time to expand the number of health care providers administering pain medicine in our state, especially those who may be under-trained and unsupervised,” said ARSA President Joshua Chance, M.D.

Physician anesthesiologists have up to 14 years of postgraduate medical education and residency training, which includes 12,000 -16,000 hours of clinical training, nearly seven times more training than nurse anesthetists.

Current laws in 45 states and the District of Columbia all require physician involvement for anesthesia care and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2017 decided to maintain its physician-led, team-based model of care. The VA’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) could not discern “whether more complex surgeries can be safely managed by CRNAs, particularly in small or isolated VA hospitals where preoperative and postoperative health system factors may be less than optimal.”

Additionally, there are no cost savings for patients in Arkansas to receive anesthesia care solely by a nurse anesthetist. Physician supervision of anesthesia ensures patients receive safe, high-quality care. ASA and ARSA urge the state not to lower the standard of care in Arkansas. It provides no benefit and can mean the difference between life and death.

The survey was conducted by TelOpinion Research. The individuals interviewed were randomly selected from the latest list of registered voters in Arkansas and the results represent a cross-section of voters across the state. The margin of error associated with a study of this size is +-3.9 percent.

About the American Society of Anesthesiologists

Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 53,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring that physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during, and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care that every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit Like ASA on Facebook; follow ASALifeline on Twitter.