Nurses rally in Tallahassee to expand health care options

About 200 CRNAs joined Rep. Cary Pigman to show support for HB 607 allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to treat patients without a supervising physician.

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You see them in the doctor’s offices or hospital when you go in for a procedure.

Thirty states and the Veterans Administration allows Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to practice without a physician supervising them.

On Tuesday, about 200 CRNAs gathered in Tallahassee to support House Bill 607, sponsored by Rep. Cary Pigman of Sebring. He’s a doctor who has been pushing for years to allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and CRNAs to have their own practice. He’s been working with them shoulder to shoulder as part of a team taking care of patients.

Pigman says under the bill, the average CRNA would have 10 years of education and experience between getting their degrees and spending years in supervised clinical practice.

The President of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists, or FANA, says CRNAs have an estimated 9,369 hours of clinical training. Dr Jose D. Castillo says people should learn more about their backgrounds. 

They believe allowing nurses with an advanced education to care for patients without a physician watching over could make more options for health care available, especially in rural areas. Only two percent of physicians practice in 30 rural communities in Florida according to Floridians Unite for Health Care.

Pigman spoke about how the resistance to allow autonomous practice appears sexist at today’s rally.

“Eighty-five percent of Advanced Practice Nurses are women. And last year, during the renewal period for physicians, 70 percent of physicians in Florida who renewed their license were men,” Pigman said. “If you don’t hear that number and take a second thought, you’re missing out. Because whether or not the dismissal of such a large group of qualified and capable women is intentional, it is something that cannot stand. 

“It is on its face sexist and reprehensible.”

He also says the Florida Medical Association is making false claims and using scare tactics to prevent people from supporting the bill.

Here’s a CRNA who worked in the military sharing her story in Tallahassee

Opponents say they have concerns about surgery outcomes without a doctor supervising giving a patient anesthesia. Clearwater anesthesiologist Dr. Jay Epstein told 10News, “The benefit of having a physician anesthesiologist or a physician involved in some manner with the anesthetic has been proven over time in terms of rescue.”

He added, “my biggest concern is the disruption of the very successful anesthesia team care model, which is a paradigm of what Speaker Oliva and Representative Pigman are trying to achieve in the health care space. This physician-led and protocol-driven partnership between doctors, advanced nurses, and mid-level practitioners (anesthesiologist assistants) provides access to the highest quality care at the lowest possible cost.”

Another doctor tweeted, “Expanding scope in and of itself is not a viable long-term solution. There are many States that have done so and the gaps in care have not been closed at all.”

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