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No room for error in the operating room

As a result of my deployment to Afghanistan as a critical care nurse, I decided to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist when I returned home. During my CRNA training, I practiced in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered.

I'm sharing my history because Maryland patients need to know that state lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 30, called the Anesthesiologist Assistant Act. If approved, the measure would allow anesthesiologist assistants to deliver anesthesia to patients after only two years of training and without any prior health care experience.

While the legislation requires assistants to be supervised by an anesthesiologist, it also allows an anesthesiologist to supervise up to four operating rooms simultaneously. If the anesthesiologist is in another operating room when a critical incident occurs elsewhere, this legislation would put all the other patients at greater risk.

Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists perform highly specialized tasks in the delivery and management of anesthesia. It is far safer for patients to receive care from anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists who have years of experience in critical care environments along with the judgment to act independently when needed.

Marylanders should act to ensure their quality of care by contacting their representatives and telling them to vote no on Senate Bill 30.

Jacqueline C. Mitchell

The writer is president of the Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

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