Yesterday, Bob Egelko, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, reported that last Thursday the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of nurses anesthetists being able to administer anesthesia without a doctor's supervision. This ruling has been heralded by nursing and patient advocacy organizations as a success for rural health where a physician's presence is often difficult to come by. Even though Federal law denies Medicare reimbursements to hospitals that allow nurses to give anesthesia without direct supervision, California is one of 16 states to opt out of this requirement after consulting with their state medical board. This court ruling aligns with recommendations made in the IOM's Initiative on the Future of Nursing committee's report: "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health" by allowing nurse anesthetists to serve patients without physician oversight, California has improved rural access to numerous health services that require anesthesia, in addition to providing safe, cost-effective care by trained professionals.
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