The development of anesthesia has greatly contributed to the safety of surgeries, reduced the level of invasiveness of many procedures, and provided increased comfort for patients. The delivery of anesthetics has been primarily provided by one of two unique health care providers: a trained physician who has specialized in anesthesia, or an advanced practice nurse—the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Both providers have a similar scope of practice, are nationally certified, and often work side-by-side. However, in recent years there has been some controversy between the two providers regarding autonomy, safety, and quality of services. The purpose of this study was to utilize current research comparing the two professions to determine if there is a difference in the quality of care and cost effectiveness between these two providers. This research was focused on studies performed in the United States after 1985. Results indicated no significant differences in quality of care between providers; however, a cost difference does exist. CRNA's provide a high quality of care equivalent to their physician counterparts, but at a reduced price. They additionally offer access to care in rural areas that lack anesthesiologists.
Limitations include an inability to assess the impact of doctoral level programs for nurse anesthetists (required for entry into practice beginning in 2025) and how this may affect the main components of patient care assessed in this study (quality of care and cost). Future studies should look at ways to improve the relationship between the two providers and to remove barriers to nurse anesthetists’ scope of practice in order to increase overall access to care.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
College of Nursing
Length of Campus-only Access
Carter, Daniel A., "A Comparison of the Quality of Care and Cost Efficiency Between Anesthesia Providers" (2018). Honors in the Major Theses. 389.