Compromise bill will benefit Oklahomans
All too often, compromise seems to be missing in politics. It made a welcome appearance at the Legislature this week.
The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill that expands the authority of nurse anesthetists. This issue has been stuck on high center for years as doctors’ groups objected to nurse anesthetists’ requests that they be allowed to administer anesthesia without physician supervision.
The measure approved unanimously Monday, Senate Bill 801, would grant nurse anesthetists’ request — but it also allows patients who want one to request an on-site consultation with a doctor, osteopath or podiatrist.
Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City and author of SB 801, said the bill essentially changes the arrangement from supervisory to collaborative.
“It’s exactly how 40 other states and the U.S. military do it,” Rosino said. “But this time we brought all stakeholders together to hammer out a version they could all support.”
Certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNAs, sedate patients for surgery and other procedures. Oklahoma CRNAs have noted that the state’s regulations are more restrictive than in other states — only about a dozen require physician supervision — and that the supervision usually is provided by surgeons or obstetricians they work with, even though those doctors may have no experience in sedation.
Physicians’ groups have said the oversight requirement enhances patient safety.
An amended SB 801 won the endorsement of organizations that represent doctors, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists and osteopaths.
Jennifer Schmitt, immediate past president of the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists, said the bill is a “common-sense solution” that will benefit rural parts of the state where it can be difficult to get access to anesthesia for surgery and obstetrical care.
“Working together as a team is what health care is all about,” Schmitt said. “A negotiated agreement like what we have achieved today is something that should be an example for others.”
Dr. Jeremy Haney, president of the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists, said the agreed-upon legislation “maintains safe, physician-led anesthesia care ensuring patient safety for all Oklahomans.”
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, noted that he has dealt with this issue since 2011. Treat said he expects SB 801 to make it through the House and onto the governor’s desk with little trouble.
Rosino merits a salute for his work in forging the compromise.
“I think this shows when we work together, we can accomplish even better health outcomes for Oklahoma,” he said. “These associations … have shown how we can come together to solve complex issues facing our state.”
More of this comity at NE 23 and Lincoln would be welcomed.