The Colorado Court of Appeals has affirmed that Colorado state law does not require certified registered nurse anesthetists to be supervised by a physician.


In a ruling yester, the court said that former Gov. Bill Ritter acted within his rights by opting out of the federal requirement for advance-practice registered nurses.


“We are pleased that the Appellate Court has upheld the lower court’s decision to continue to allow CRNAs to administer anesthesia without the supervision of a physician, which has always been the scope of practice the Colorado nurse anesthetists,” said Scott Shaffer, president of the Colorado Association of Nurse Anesthetists.


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Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia services to 99 percent of the communities with surgical services throughout the state. In Colorado, CRNAs are the sole provider of anesthesia services in 70 percent of the state’s hospitals.


The court’s ruling dismisses a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists and the Colorado Medical Society.


Certified registered nurse Anesthetists are advanced practice registered nurses who personally administer approximately 32 million anesthetics to patients across the United States each year.


Two recent national anesthesia studies confirmed the safety and cost-effectiveness of CRNAs, who practice in every type of setting in which anesthesia is delivered and are the sole anesthesia providers in most rural hospitals.


The federal supervision rule, however, is not a regulatory measure designed to ensure patient safety; in reality it is a requirement that hospitals must meet in order to receive Medicare reimbursement for anesthesia services, unless a state chooses to opt out of the rule as Colorado has done.


Colorado is one of 17 states that opted out of the federal rule, following Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Kansas, North Dakota, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, California and Kentucky.