My name is Dr. Anne Phillips Cousins, and I have been a board-certified registered nurse anesthetist for over 10 years.
As a New Mexican, I am writing to strongly urge you to oppose Senate Bill 35, which is proposing to allow anesthesiologist assistants, otherwise known as AAs, to practice in more areas and with less direction in New Mexico.
In addition to our brilliant physicians in New Mexico, there are also several equally talented, qualified and wise non-physician clinical specialists such as: chiropractors, CRNAs, dentists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and podiatrists.
However, AA’s aren’t among this group because they are NOT clinical specialists. They are clinical assistants.
There are only about 2,000 AAs in the U.S. No branch of the U.S. military utilizes AAs. They are legally bound to work under the medical direction of an anesthesiologist.
The close “direction” requirements could be because AA’s only complete a two-year program learning to technically assist an anesthesiologist after earning an unspecified bachelors degree.
AAs have not had the extensive education or experience to make safe and sensible clinical decisions. They are simply trained to assist those who do.
In anesthesia, emergencies arise in an instant. Seconds count. There is no time for a patient to wait for an actual anesthesia provider to come and rescue the AA, thus the patient, during an emergency.
New Mexicans deserve and expect a safe anesthetic, administered by a CRNA or anesthesiologist who are both expertly trained to safely perform and think independently. As a CRNA, I first and foremost have the responsibility to ensure patient safety.
Senate bill 35 supports grossly unsafe yet extremely expensive anesthesia. So please help to protect all New Mexicans and vote NO to SB 35.
Anne P. Cousins, DNPA, CRNA