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Official news from the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology

Arkansas Opts Out of Physician Supervision of CRNAs

  • May 27, 2022

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)—Arkansas is the latest state to opt out from federal regulations that require physician supervision of Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) reports that the governors of more than 20 states and Guam have exercised such exemptions.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s action in signing the opt-out ensures Arkansas’ patients have access to value-based, high-quality care and optimizes healthcare teams across the state, according to Slade Bridwell, CRNA, president of the Arkansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists (ARANA).

In March 2021, Gov. Hutchinson signed HB 1198 to remove supervision requirements for CRNAs in the state nurse practice act.

“Removing barriers to CRNA practice allows Arkansas hospitals to select the anesthesia delivery model that maximizes their workforce and increases access to safe, affordable care for all patients,” said former ARANA president Debra Varela, DNP, CRNA. “By signing this important legislation, Arkansas recognizes that CRNAs are qualified to make decisions regarding all aspects of anesthesia care based on their education, licensure, and certification.”

Anesthesia services are provided solely by CRNAs in Arkansas’s critical access hospitals offering surgical services and 90% of its rural hospitals.  They comprise 68% of the state’s anesthesia care providers.

“The AANA applauds Gov. Hutchinson for recognizing the important role CRNAs have in delivery of safe anesthesia care in Arkansas,” said AANA President Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN. “Increased demand, limited resources, and a state with diverse populations, both rural and urban, dictate that a system capable of meeting the needs of all Arkansas residents be maintained. By signing the opt-out letter, this has been achieved.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse anesthetists across the country have, in addition to providing top-of-the-line anesthesia care, served as experts in airway management, hemodynamic monitoring, management of patients on ventilators, and overall management of critically ill patients. Instrumental in addressing the deadliest part of COVID-19, CRNAs have become highly sought-after anesthesia care providers.

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