Ohio has joined most of the states in passing emergency legislation to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. A bill passed in mid-March covers a wide variety of areas including how certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) can practice. The legislation expands the scope of practice so that CRNAs can contribute more to fighting the virus.
The icing on the cake is that the CRNA rule is the only part of Ohio’s legislation that is permanent. In other words, long after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, all of the other temporary rule changes will be null and void. The CRNA rule is the only exception. It permanently expands the scope of practice for CRNAs in the state of Ohio.
More Authority to Practice
Ohio’s new rule effectively gives CRNAs new authority to choose, order, and administer certain kinds of drugs and treatments under certain circumstances outlined by the legislation. It also grants CRNAs new authority to direct nurses and respiratory therapists regarding tasks related to anesthesiology. There is obviously more to the rule; what is offered here is just a summary.
It is worth noting that the rule allows a supervising anesthesiologist to intervene and prevent the CRNA from exercising his or her expanded authority if the best interests of the patient would be otherwise compromised. Thus, the new rule does not completely free CRNAs from supervision.
The rule change is a good compromise that broadens the scope of CRNA jobs without overstepping the limits of training and clinical experience. It still allows some measure of oversight when necessary. Though the rule may not be everything Ohio CRNAs would want, it is a good compromise.
Working on the Front Lines
What Ohio has done with their emergency legislation is a model for other states to follow. CRNAs are on the front lines along with supervising anesthesiologists, respiratory therapists, nurses and doctors. They are part of a complete healthcare team tasked with making sure every patient experiences the best possible outcome.
Expanding their scope of practice gives CRNAs greater opportunities to do what they have been trained to do. It allows them to make decisions they are perfectly capable of making. Best of all, it streamlines the process by eliminating some of the unnecessary supervisory hurdles that have long gotten in the way of good medicine.
Other states will hopefully see what Ohio has done and follow suit. Maybe someday the regulations in all 50 states will be nearly identical. CRNAs, supervising anesthesiologists, and patients alike would all benefit from the expanded scope of practice. Recruiters like Health Jobs Nationwide would benefit too.
Time for a Rethink
For all the negativity surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has at least served the beneficial purpose of causing government leaders and healthcare experts to rethink how we do things in this country. It is causing regulators to consider whether or not the regulations are burdensome and harmful in times of medical crises. That much is good.
CRNA jobs in Ohio will now change moving forward. Hopefully we will see more states follow suit. Expanding the scope of practice nationwide would redefine CRNA jobs for the better. It is hard to see how that would be bad. At the very least, it seems that the end result would be breaking even. And if that is all we get out of it in order to temporarily boost efforts to fight COVID-19, isn’t that good enough?
We need a rethink of the entire healthcare regulatory framework. Maybe expanding the scope of CRNA jobs in Ohio will be the thing that gets the ball rolling.