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The credential CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) came into existence in 1956. CRNAs are anesthesia professionals who safely administer more than 33 million anesthetics to patients each year in the United States.
CRNAs are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America, enabling healthcare facilities in these medically underserved areas to offer obstetrical, surgical, pain management and trauma stabilization services. In some states, CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100% of the rural hospitals.
CRNAs provide anesthesia in collaboration with surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, podiatrists, and other qualified healthcare professionals. When anesthesia is administered by a nurse anesthetist, it is recognized as the practice of nursing; when administered by an anesthesiologist, it is recognized as the practice of medicine. Regardless of whether their educational background is in nursing or medicine, all anesthesia professionals give anesthesia the same way.
Nurse anesthetists have been the main providers of anesthesia care to U.S. military personnel on the front lines since WWI, including current conflicts in the Middle East. Nurses first provided anesthesia to wounded soldiers during the Civil War.
Managed care plans recognize CRNAs for providing high-quality anesthesia care with reduced expense to patients and insurance companies. The cost-efficiency of CRNAs helps control escalating healthcare costs.* In 2001, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) changed the federal physician supervision rule for nurse anesthetists to allow state governors to opt out of this facility reimbursement requirement (which applies to hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers) by meeting three criteria: 1) consult the state boards of medicine and nursing about issues related to access to and the quality of anesthesia services in the state, 2) determine that opting out is consistent with state law, and 3) determine that opting out is in the best interests of the state’s citizens.
To date, 17 states have opted out of the federal supervision requirement. Additional states do not have supervision requirements in state law and are eligible to opt out should the governors elect to do so. Nationally, the average 2012 malpractice premium for self-employed CRNAs was 33% lower than in 1988 (62% lower when adjusted for inflation). Legislation passed by Congress in 1986 made nurse anesthetists the first nursing specialty to be accorded direct reimbursement rights under the Medicare program.
*Study Shows CRNA-Only Anesthesia Delivery Most Cost Effective Read Study Here.