Outsourcing Anesthesia Services – What’s Legal and What’s Not

Don’t let physicians or insurance companies make treatment decisions for you

With the rising costs of medical services, insurance companies are reducing coverage and/or impinging on patients’ rights to make important healthcare choices. This is especially true with regard to anesthesia services.   Whether you are a physician or anesthetist, patient safety is non-negotiable and cost should never be the deciding factor when it comes to sedation. Patients should be informed of their options (if there are any) and the consequences of each one. It’s up to them to decide what they want.

Unfortunately, patients’ best interests are not the prime focus of some medical service providers or insurance companies. Therefore, patients must be made aware of discrepancies and deviations from procedure so that they can protect themselves and avoid unnecessary risks.

One of the many issues surrounds propofol usage. Certified anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists are trained in propofol usage. This enables them to eliminate unnecessary risks and deal with problems effectively ensuring the patient’s well-being and quick recovery. If your physician, surgeon or office-based doctor is not licensed to administer propofol, he or she should not do so. It’s not only dangerous but also unlawful. Remember what happened to Michael Jackson? Physicians and insurance companies should not make treatment decisions, deviate from approved procedures, and/or make sedation choices for a patient. 

Several instances have come to light where doctors (not licensed anesthetists) are administering propofol anesthesia to their patients. This is extremely dangerous as in cases where patients are told it’s okay to have a light meal before the procedure (which requires anesthesia). This is certainly not okay! Some doctors or dentists don’t even provide for oxygen when the patient is under sedation. This is could be fatal as sedation reduces a patient’s ability to breathe. Moreover the physician or surgeon should really be focusing on his/her area of expertise to offer the best care rather than venture into an area in which he/she is not qualified. That is putting the patient’s life at risk.

Also some insurance companies are discouraging propofol usage (or full sedation) unless the patient is in ‘the high risk category’. Insurance companies are not medically qualified to determine the type of sedation, who needs it, or who should provide anesthesia services. It has been proven that Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) is the quickest and safest form of sedation that also encourages faster recovery.

Remember, anesthesiologists and CRNAs have specialized in anesthesia and are the best ones to administer sedation, monitor the patient throughout the process, and deal with any complications that may arise. After all, you wouldn’t ask a gastroenterologist to deliver a baby or a gynecologist to perform an endoscopy. Then why compromise on an anesthesia provider?! Michael Jackson’s untimely death is a classic example of unethical medical practices. His physician was not licensed or trained in propofol usage.

Clearly, all patients are more comfortable when anesthesia professionals manage their sedation. And patient well-being and safety should be every doctor’s top priority.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us.