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Utah Surgeons for Safe Anesthesia is a coalition of Utah surgeons, physicians, and other healthcare professionals which opposes legislative efforts to license anesthesiology assistants (AA’s) in Utah. 

Our primary concern is for the safety of our patients.  Despite five previous successive legislative defeats, efforts are again being made during this legislative session to create a new class of anesthesia professional – the anesthesiology assistant.

The implications of HB 109 if successful, however, will have a profoundly negative effect on both the safety and well being of Utah surgical patients and our healthcare system.

-There are fewer than 4,000 AA’s practicing in the United States today.  So few in fact that valid outcome studies which could assess the validity and safety of their practice have yet to be performed.  Pending such studies or evidence to support the safety and efficacy of AA practice, licensing AA’s in Utah would be extremely negligent.  Allowing patients in our state to be used as guinea pigs by a relatively obscure and unproven practitioner is absolutely not in the best interests of Utah patients. 

Utah should follow the example of the thirty-five states that either do not allow AA practice or specifically prohibit it.

-There is inherent risk in both the quality and quantity of AA training.  Unlike anesthesiologists whose education culminates in thirteen years or more of diversified training or certified registered nurse anesthetists whose clinical experience and academic requirements extend for often greater than nine years, AA’s- with no required healthcare background- complete their training in two years time.

Given the comparative deficits in training and education alone we ought to feel further compelled to assess and verify the effect such a practitioner would have on the current level of surgical safety patients now enjoy in Utah.

-The most significant effect of licensing AA’s in Utah would be to decrease our current standard of patient care. 

-No shortage of anesthesia providers exists in Utah.  In fact, most of the anesthesiology residents and nurse anesthetist students who train in Utah programs are forced to leave the state to find post training employment.  There simply are not enough positions for the anesthesia providers we already have.

Bringing AA’s to Utah would force greater numbers Utah residents out of the state.

-There is no cost savings in replacing our current anesthesia providers with AA’s.  Insurance companies pay the same benefits for anesthesia care regardless of the practitioner providing the service.  No net savings to the Utah healthcare economy would be recognized by utilizing a marginally trained anesthesia provider.

Ultimately there is no need for AA’s in Utah.  No foreseeable increase in the quality, affordability, or prevalence of anesthesia care would accompany the institution of AA practice in Utah.  In fact, the only logical outcomes would be a decrease in the quality of anesthetic care in Utah and displacement of our own well-trained anesthesia provider residents to other states.

Please help to oppose this measure in the Utah legislature by contacting your state Representatives and Senators today or by sending letters or comments to UtahSurgeonsForSafeAnesthesia@outlook.com
.  Also, please add your name to the list of concerned physicians and healthcare professionals by following the sign-up link.