The California Medical Association (CMA) and California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) have filed a petition for review by the Supreme Court of California after an appeal of a 2009 decision by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to exempt California from federal rules requiring physician supervision of nurse anesthetists in Medicare-participating hospitals that was denied in March 2012.
CMA and CSA challenged Schwarzenegger’s decision in court because they believe it is inconsistent with California law, which requires that a physician always retain responsibility and control over the medical care of his or her patient. Physician supervision over nurse anesthetists is necessary within this framework, according to CMA and CSA, to ensure that the medical professional with the best training and the most clinical experience remain involved through all aspects of anesthesia care. Although nurse anesthetists can and do administer anesthesia, physicians are the most qualified to monitor the effects of the anesthesia, and to react immediately when medically necessary.
While disappointed with the court decisions thus far to uphold Schwarzenegger’s opt-out, CMA remains undeterred and committed to protecting the quality and safety of all medical care provided to Californians. A decision on the petition for review can be expected in June.