Newswise — The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the South Dakota Society of Anesthesiologists (SDSA) strongly oppose SB 50, which will needlessly dismantle the anesthesia care team model in South Dakota by authorizing nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia without physician supervision. Additionally, the bill will authorize nurse anesthetists to prescribe patients potentially dangerous controlled substances, including opioids, and perform intricate pain medicine procedures all with no physician oversight or involvement.

ASA and SDSA urge the South Dakota legislators to vote no on SB 50. This bill is in direct opposition to what most Americans want when they receive anesthesia care. Additionally, this bill will lower the standard of care and jeopardize the lives of South Dakotans receiving surgical anesthesia and pain medicine.

“Despite advances in medicine and patient safety, surgery and anesthesia are inherently dangerous,” said ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, 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 SDSA President James T. Brunz, 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 anesthesia 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, the World Health Organization’s “International Standards for a Safe Practice of Anesthesia” states “wherever and whenever possible, anesthesia should be provided, led, or overseen by an anesthesiologist as the safe provision of anesthesia requires a ‘high level of expertise’ in medical diagnosis, pharmacology, physiology, and anatomy.”

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

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 54,000 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.