Raleigh, N.C. — The House on Wednesday approved legislation to require physician supervision of any nurse providing anesthesia during a medical or dental procedure.
House Bill 181 now heads to the Senate, which already is considering a more liberal interpretation of state rules on the issue.
The issue is a familiar one at the General Assembly, pitting doctors against other health professionals. At the heart of the anesthesiology battle is whether nurse anesthetists need to work "collaboratively" with or "under the supervision of" doctors.
Sponsor Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said the legislation merely codifies existing appeals court rulings and other case law.
Certified registered nurse anesthetists, who receive further training in order to manage anesthesiology care, have fought the bill, saying it calls for a higher level of oversight than currently exists.
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said physicians have told her nothing would change in any North Carolina operating room if the bill passes or fails. Still, she said, passage could set the groundwork for limiting other advanced practice nurses in the state in the future.
In other business, the House tentatively approved legislation that would prevent the prosecution of people who might be intoxicated or possess small quantities of drugs when they take someone to an emergency room for treatment of an overdose or alcohol poisoning.
The House also gave final approval to bills that would require state licensing boards to weigh the circumstances of a crime – how long ago it occurred, how old the person was and the severity of the crime, for example – in determining whether to deny a professional license and would expand the amount of information about an employer's workers compensation policy that falls under the state public records laws.
The licensing bill heads back to the Senate for concurrence with changes, while the workers comp bill was sent to Gov. Pat McCrory.