In the obstetric setting, care given by certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) is as safe and effective as that provided by anesthesiologists, according to new research. The retrospective study involved 134,806 women who underwent cesarean sections at facilities in Washington State. Of these, 33,236 received care in facilities with CRNA-only staffing; the rest received care in facilities that employed anesthesiologists only.
Researchers identified 965 anesthesia-related complications, including 17 deaths. Complication rates for the two providers was about the same: 0.58% for CRNAs, 0.76% for anesthesiologists. Researchers say their findings should let facilities consider variables other than safety, such as provider availability and costs, when staffing for obstetric anesthesia.