Top nursing organizations urge to improve veteran access to anesthesia care

Twenty-two nursing organizations, including the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on October 24, 2017, expressing their concerns about surgical cancellations and postponements for veterans due to a lack of access to anesthesia services at the Denver VA Medical Center.

The letter went on to say that by allowing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to practice to the full extent of their licensure, education and ability, it would help to ease the delays veterans are currently experiencing, and provide better access to anesthesia care.

The letter is in direct challenge to "the VA's final rule on full practice authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in December of 2016 that did not include CRNAs. The final rule stated that, 'VA's position to not include CRNAs in this final rule does not stem from the CRNAs' inability to practice to the full extent of their professional competence, but rather from VA's lack of access problems in the area of anesthesiology.'"

Yet reports out of Denver and other VA facilities continue to state that there are access to anesthesia care problems within the Veterans Health Administration.

"Both the Commission on Care's Final Report and the VA Independent Assessment advised providing full practice authority to CRNAs as a way to improve access to quality care in the VHA system," said the letter. "We believe the time has come for the VA to reconsider their final rule and adopt full practice authority for CRNAs as they did for all other APRNs."


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