Newswise — The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) commends the Trump Administration for its report released today by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) that reinforces the importance of scope of practice (SOP) laws and regulations, which can protect patients at risk when a complex, technically demanding medical procedure, such as surgery and anesthesia, are performed.

The “scope of practice” portion of the report, “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition,” recognizes the unique patient population, settings, and medical team leaders needed to care for surgical and acute patients.

“This report validates the importance of laws that protect patients by ensuring they receive care from medical professionals who can draw on their extensive medical education, years of clinical training and experience to make critical decisions that protect and save lives,” said ASA President Linda Mason, M.D., FASA.   

ASA commends the report for recognizing the need for appropriate laws and regulations that protect patients.  According to the report, “SOP laws and regulations, like other health and safety regulations, may be justified when there are substantial risks of consumer harm. These regulations may be especially important with respect to certain healthcare professions, where consumers might be at risk of serious harm if they were treated by unqualified individuals, and where patients might find it difficult (if not impossible) to assess quality of care at the time of delivery.”    

Surgery and anesthesia are inherently dangerous requiring physician involvement. An independent outcomes study published in the peer-reviewed journal Anesthesiology 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.  Nurse anesthetists often advocate that substituting nurses for physicians cuts costs without increasing patient deaths or complications. However, an independent study shows that the odds of an adverse outcome are 80 percent higher when anesthesia is provided only by a nurse anesthetist as opposed to a physician anesthesiologist.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care 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.