Scope-of-Practice Bill for Anesthesia

Assembly legislation (AB 890) amended with full bill language this week would create anesthesia assistants, who would perform some tasks of physician anesthesiologists, under physician supervision.

The idea of AB 890 by Assembly member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) is to offer anesthesiologists support workers, which could free up time for higher-level practitioners and help address the lack of physician anesthesiologists in California.

Unlike a number of scope-of-practice bills introduced in the past couple of years, this one is sponsored by physicians, in this case the California Society of Anesthesiologists.

The California Medical Association has not yet taken an official position on the bill, as the language for it just came out.

The bill proposes establishing a tier of providers with a relationship similar to that of physicians and either nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Anesthesiologists would supervise the work of anesthesia assistants.

According to advocates for the bill, the state has an anesthesia-provider-to-population ratio that’s as much as 50% lower than the national average, and 17 other states now allow anesthesia assistants.

Nurse anesthetists are expected to oppose the bill, as it could have an effect on their profession.

The bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions this month.

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