Media coverage of ASA’s fight against 0% increase in Medicare payment continues
In March, Becker’s ASC Review covered ASA’s urging Congress not to accept the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Recommendation of no (0%) annual payment update for physician payments in 2023 and quoted ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA. “For decades, there have been real cuts to Medicare physician anesthesiologist payment rates on top of the steady erosion caused by inflation,” he said.
ASA weighs in on new CDC opioid guidelines
In March, Clinical Pain Advisor and Pain Medicine News ran articles including insights from David Dickerson, MD, chair of ASA’s Committee on Pain Medicine, on the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) proposed new opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain. Dr. Dickerson noted in both articles the importance of how the proposed guidelines allow for making exceptions for challenging cases.
As the comment period for the guidelines came to an end in April, Pain News Network featured ASA’s response to the guidelines, quoting its letter to the CDC that acknowledges the benefits of the updated guidance and provides recommendations for the gaps that remain: “ASA recommends that the agency note in the updated guideline that clinicians defer to professional medical society guidelines and standards of care for surgical procedures. Medical specialty societies, including ASA, are the experts in perioperative pain care, including postsurgical pain, and are best suited to develop clinical guidelines in this specific area.”
Also in April, Clinical Pain Advisor published another article, which highlighted ASA’s response to the guidelines supporting the change from a “one-size-fits-all” dosing strategy. The article – also featured on Rheumatology Advisor – included a Q&A with Dr. Dickerson providing additional details on ASA’s perspective. “Our recommendations promote procedure- and patient-specific approaches to ‘right size’ standardization efforts across the patient journey, from injury to recovery and return of function.”
ASA applauds efforts to prohibit misleading medical titles and protect physician-led care
In March, The Paper of Montgomery County (Crawfordsville, Indiana) printed a statement from ASA and the Indiana Society of Anesthesiologists (ISA) applauding Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb for signing a bill into a law preventing the misappropriation of medical specialty titles, including “anesthesiologist.” Medscape also covered the statement and quoted ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA. “This new law affirms the most fundamental right of patients to know the qualifications of their health care professional,” said Dr. Clark.
In April, Becker’s ASC Review reported on ASA’s commending of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers for vetoing a senate bill that would have significantly eliminated requirements for physician collaboration with all advanced practice registered nurses, including nurse anesthetists.
Anesthesiologists quoted as pain management experts
In March, a Houston Chronicle Q&A on alternatives to opioids quoted Michael Roizen, MD. In advising a patient concerned about opioid addiction after knee replacement, Dr. Roizen said, “If you do take opioids post-op, working with a pain management specialist is the safest way to protect yourself from addiction.”
That same month, Becker’s ASC Review, Pain News Network, and OR Manager featured ASA and 14 other medical societies’ best practices for managing acute surgical pain in patients with chronic pain, substance use disorders or on long-term opioid therapy prior to surgery. “This really is meant to be a patient-centered document that says we should invest in making sure these patients have a good experience,” David Dickerson, MD, chair of ASA’s Committee on Pain Medicine, said in the Pain News Network story.
In April, a HealthDay article that was also featured on U.S. News & World Report and WebMD.com reported on new research that shows fewer Americans under 18 are prescribed narcotics to treat surgical pain and quoted the study’s author, Tori Sutherland, MD. “Our findings suggest that surgical providers are prescribing fewer opioids for procedures where they might not be needed,” she said.
In May, Pharmacy Practice News reported on the joint recommendations by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, ASA, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, American Academy of Pain Medicine, and American Society of Addiction Medicine for the treatment of opioid use disorder and quoted Eugene Viscusi, MD, as the senior author. “Patients have to be plugged into a system, so once they leave the hospital, they have the appropriate follow-up,” he said.
Media continue to seek anesthesiologists’ input on COVID-19
On March 17 – during Patient Safety Awareness Week – KevinMD.com included a perspective by George Tewfik, MD, about shifting priorities to preserve and improve patient safety during the pandemic. He wrote, “…the essential work of patient safety continues as we chase our goal of eliminating the risk of patient harm. Even during an unprecedented crisis, we must ensure that our priorities align with this objective.”
Later in March, ACP Hospitalist quoted ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA, in an article on the updated guidance regarding COVID-19 and surgery provided by ASA and the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. “The primary determination for each person in deciding when to have surgery should be primarily related to symptomatology,” he said.
Coverage of the updated guidance continued into April. Medscape quoted Matthias Eikermann, MD, PhD, chair of ASA’s Abstract Review Subcommittee on Respiration, in an article about whether wait times should be shortened after asymptomatic infection. “You cannot really use data obtained during the first two surges to inform decisions about patient care around surgery in 2022,” he said. And in a General Surgery News article discussing the timing of elective surgery in patients recovering from COVID-19, former ASA President Daniel Cole, MD, FASA, was quoted. “The purpose of these statements is really to provide a decision aid for difficult health care scenarios. It’s not necessarily a standard, but [addresses] challenges that clinicians are faced with.”
Also in April, an ASA mat release (a feature article appearing in newspapers or online to complement staff-written material) on resuming screenings or procedures that require anesthesia, which had been delayed during the pandemic, led to more than 1,000 online placements, including in the Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Gate, and Seattle Post Intelligencer. The publications included the release’s tips to ensure patients are prepared and as healthy as possible and quoted ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA. “With safety measures in place and COVID-19 numbers decreasing, it is vital for everyone to resume their lifesaving and life-changing screenings and procedures. Your health and well-being may depend on it,” said Dr. Clark.
In May, a Modern Healthcare article on the increase in central-line-associated bloodstream infections referenced Richard Beers, MD, chair of ASA’s Committee on Occupational Health. He said that health care workers have been placing the infusion devices connected to central lines outside of patients’ rooms during the pandemic so they can make adjustments without entering the environment. While that lowers the risk for COVID-19, he noted that the longer lines mean more potential for contamination of the ports and connections between lines.
Anesthesiologists take to the airwaves to protect safe anesthesia care for Veterans
In April, ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA, and Gurdev Rai, MD, president of the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists and former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) chief of anesthesiology, conducted 18 interviews with television and radio stations across the country to explain the need to stop a proposal by VA that would allow nurses to administer anesthesia without physician oversight. The interviews reached an audience of more than 17.9 million, airing coast to coast, including on WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay; WNDB-AM in Daytona Beach; KTXL-TV in Sacramento; WBFF-TV in Baltimore; and WTKR-TV in Norfolk. An additional audience of 27.1 million also was reached through 1,000 more airings and website postings.
The coverage success continued into May, when Dr. Clark and Sivasenthil Arumugam, MD, FASA, president of the Connecticut Society of Anesthesiologists, were interviewed by WVIT-TV (New Britain, Connecticut) discussing the need to stop VA’s proposal. “Why do Veterans need a different model without the presence of a physician anesthesiologist is our question,” said Dr. Arumugam. “I think that’s a compromise on the safety and outcomes for Veterans who have given their lives for this country.”
Media continue coverage of ASA’s No Surprises Act lawsuit
In April, Healthcare Finance reported ASA, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), and American College of Radiology (ACR) would continue to move on their federal lawsuit to block implementation of parts of the Surprise Billing Interim Final Rule in the wake of a last-minute government challenge to a February ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that vacated those parts of the rule.
In May, ASA President Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA, was quoted in Repertoire on the topic, noting, “The public should recognize that the federal government is now regulating contracts between private parties in a way that has never been done before. This extends beyond asserting the parameters of how contracts should be managed, which one could argue is very appropriate, and now extends into what one private party pays another.”
The coverage continued in May when Becker’s Hospital Review and HealthLeaders covered the federal government’s request for a hold on its appeal of the federal ruling and included ASA, ACEP, and ACR comments noting the hold is “a step in the right direction” in the Becker’s article.
Anesthesiology journal study coverage appears across the country
In May, HealthDay reported on a study published in Anesthesiology that found Black and Hispanic people are at higher risk for intraoperative occult hypoxemia. The article, which was picked up by more than 150 outlets, including the Buffalo News (Buffalo, New York), the Lincoln Journal-Star (Lincoln, Nebraska), and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, quoted the study’s author, Garrett W. Burnett, MD. “We have found evidence that Black and Hispanic race/ethnicity are significantly associated with occult hypoxemia in the 92 to 100 percent SpO2 range in anesthetized patients,” he said.