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Should Nurse Anesthetists Be Allowed To Administer Anesthesia?

1491 words - 6 pages

Throughout the years, there has been an ongoing controversy over whether or not nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) should be allowed to administer anesthesia. There are various legal issues surrounding nurse anesthetists ranging from the illegal practicing of anesthesia to physician supervision requirements. A nurse anesthetist is a specialized nurse who has been adequately trained to administer anesthesia—drugs that induce loss of pain or sensation. These types of nurses are registered and have completed additional years of college in order for them to practice anesthesia. At the minimum, it takes seven calendar years to become a nurse anesthetist. And before completing their studies, an average ...view middle of the document...

Agatha Hodgins is still known to be one of the most distinguished nurse anesthetists in the history of the United States.
“Nurse Anesthetists played a very large role in WWI.”(Nagelhout) Although the number of nurse anesthetists that were enlisted in the military is unclear, nurse anesthetists were credited with introducing nitrous oxygen anesthesia to the English and French. And due to the superior performance of nurse anesthetists at this time, the Army and Navy sent nurses to CRNA training for the first time. Anne Pendleton, a nurse serving in the New York Unit during the war was the first nurse to go to the British front. Here, she ultimately won the confidence of British medical personnel and inspired them to train nurse anesthetists of their own. This helped to relieve more than one-hundred physicians for medical and surgical procedures. In the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, Frank Bunts wrote, “The First World War demonstrated beyond any question the value of a nurse anesthetist.”
There are numerous amounts of specialties that one could choose in a medical career. Some include: phycology, genetic studies, gynecology, and orthopedics. But more than any other medical specialty, anesthesiology has managed to blur the difference between physicians and nurse-practitioners. Perhaps the biggest difference between a CRNA and an anesthesiologist is that a CRNA has a nursing degree and an anesthesiologist has a medical degree (Malina). At one period, there was a time when anesthesia was delivered through a paper cone and an ether—a colorless liquid that is used as an anesthetic. This led people to recognize that administered anesthesia was the “nurse’s task.” With CRNA certification, many surgeons began to feel more comfortable with nurses administering anesthesia and accepted that anesthesia could in fact be practiced by a nurse. But, only with supervision of a physician. Problems involving nurses practicing anesthesia did not surface until the practice became more refined and technologically advanced.
One of the earliest challenges that faced CRNAs was whether nurse anesthetists were practicing medicine “illegally.” It is the job of state legislatures to determine what is considered practicing medicine and what is in the best interest of patients. State legislatures have recognized anesthesia administration to be within the scope of practice of a nurse. This being because anesthesia administration involves a series of works in which patients are becoming insensitive to pain. These works pertain to the practice of nursing thereby establishing anesthesia administration as a proper function of nurses. For decades now, it has been well-recognized that nurse anesthetists are practicing nursing and not illegally practicing medicine.
There has been massive amounts of dispute and contention about what the “proper” role of CRNA is. In earlier years, few states didn’t allow nurse anesthetists to independently administer anesthesia...

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