EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) can practice independently or with varying degrees of supervision by physicians or anesthesiologists. Before 2001, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conditions of participation required CRNAs to be supervised by a physician. Starting in November 2001, CMS implemented an opt-out policy to give states greater autonomy in determining how anesthesia services are delivered. The policy also provided a mechanism to increase access to anesthesia services.We sought to understand and describe surgical facility leaders' perceptions of CRNA quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness; the motivation and rationale for using different anesthesia staffing models; and facilitators and barriers to using CRNAs. We applied a mixed-methods approach to understand surgical facility leadership decision-making for staffing arrangements.The use of anesthesia staffing models differed by location and surgical facility type. For example, the predominantly CRNA model was used in only 10% of large urban hospitals but in 61% of rural ambulatory surgical centers. Interviews with surgical facility leaders revealed that geographic location, surgeon preference, and organizational inertia were powerful contributors to a facility's choice of staffing model. Other factors included the Medicare opt-out provision, facility experience, and cost considerations. Differences in quality and safety between models were not contributing factors for most facilities.
Quality, costs, and policy
Factors influencing choice of anesthesia staffing models