Update From the ASA Annual Meeting 2013

  • Sibert, Karen, MD, FASA
| Oct 15, 2013

The annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists is in high gear here in San Francisco, with the CSA's own Dr. Adrian Gelb, Chair of our Educational Programs Division, officiating as the local host.

One of the meeting highlights is the election of officers for the upcoming year. Dr. Stan Stead, who has headed the CSA's Legislative and Practice Affairs Division and is a frequent speaker on health care economics and practice management, is running in a contested election for Vice President for Professional Affairs. CSA stalwarts including Drs. Johnathan Pregler, Linda Hertzberg, Mark Singleton, Jim Moore and others have been busy campaigning on Dr. Stead's behalf, and we look forward to a win for him on Wednesday.

Former CSA President Dr. Daniel Cole is running unopposed for First Vice President, the stepping stone to the ASA presidency in two years. Dr. Linda Mason, current ASA Secretary and former CSA President, is also running unopposed for another term as ASA Secretary, so we can offer Drs. Cole and Mason our congratulations in advance.

"Winning the War" is the title of Dr. John B. Neeld's Emery A. Rovenstine Memorial Lecture, which he gave before a full house yesterday morning. Dr. Neeld, a former ASA President, warned the group that the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) has undertaken aggressive lobbying efforts in state capitals and in Washington DC with the goal of achieving the destruction of physician-led anesthesia care.

The Affordable Care Act is supporting the nurse anesthetists with its nondiscrimination clause, Section 2706, which prohibits insurers from discriminating against health care practitioners as long as they are working within the scope of their license. "This gives all providers unlimited opportunities," said Dr. Neeld, warning that full implementation of this clause could federalize the practice of medicine which has been previously defined by states.

Dr. Neeld explained to his rapt audience that the Federal Trade Commission has also entered the controversy, supporting independent practice by nurse anesthetists. Restriction of independent nursing practice by state medical boards or state legislation, he said, has been challenged by the FTC as restraint of trade with "chilling effect".

Physician anesthesiologists must lead anesthesia care in the interests of patient safety, Dr. Neeld said. He added that we need reliable prospective

outcome data from physician-led anesthesia care teams, which can be compared with outcomes from  nurse anesthetists working alone, in order to make our case.

He challenged the ASA to provide $1 million in funding for prospective outcome studies and urged the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) to develop requests for proposals. This meeting has focused heavily on the future of our profession, and many exciting prospects have been highlighted.

Are you attending the ASA Annual Meeting and Anesthesiology 2013? Please share your experiences in comments below.

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