2021 LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
INFORMED CONSENT CLARIFIED
Gov. Tom Wolf enacted a new law that remedies the years-long fallout from a complex ruling by the state’s top court related to “informed consent” that had the unintended consequence of restricting the administration of anesthesia. READ MORE HERE.
The state Supreme Court’s ruling in the Shinal v. Toms case, handed down June 20, 2017, after a review of the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCare) Act, made the surgeon, who is not an anesthesia expert, responsible for talking to a patient about anesthesia care and obtaining their consent. The court’s interpretation had a profound effect on CRNAs, especially those who work without physician anesthesiologists.
The new law --- Senate Bill 425, now Act 61 of 2021, sponsored by state Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia) --- essentially clarifies that while physicians remain responsible for the overall care of their patients, the task of obtaining a patient’s informed consent may be delegated by a physician to a qualified practitioner, including CRNAs. VIEW ACT 61 FACT SHEET HERE.
PA JOINS NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT
Pennsylvania has joined 36 other states by joining the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to have one multistate license in their primary state of residence and practice in other compact states under that one license. Gov. Tom Wolf enacted Senate Bill 115, now Act 68 of 2021, on June 30. The measure was sponsored by state Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton).
Once fully implemented, the NLC will reduce bureaucracy by enabling nurses to practice across the country without having to obtain additional licenses. Under the NLC, there is no need to wait for a state disaster declaration or an executive order to address health-care licensing issues as compact nurses are able to cross state lines and assist immediately.
More than 2 million nurses live in NLC states. In Pennsylvania, this new law benefits 229,000 RNs and 51,000 LPNs.
PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATION ENACTED
After more than a decade of legislative advocacy, certified registered nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania are finally getting the recognition they deserve. On June 30, 2021, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 416, now Act 60 of 2021, which grants formal title recognition to the state’s CRNAs. This is a monumental achievement for the more than 3,700 CRNAs and students in the commonwealth. Read more HERE and view the ACT 60 FACT SHEET.
Pennsylvania had been one of just two states that failed to recognize “certified registered nurse anesthetist” in some form. With no definition for nurse anesthetists under the state’s Professional Nursing Law, CRNAs were recognized only as registered nurses. That all changed with the governor’s signature. The enactment marks the end of our lengthy fight to secure professional recognition for our advanced education, specialized training, and clinical skills.
Besides title recognition, Act 60 also expands the providers that CRNAs are permitted to work with to include podiatrists, and it clarifies regulatory language as it pertains to physician involvement with anesthesia services, formalizing the status quo. The measure also includes cooperation language to define the relationship CRNAs have with their physician colleagues.
Special thanks go to Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia), who sponsored the Senate measure that became law, and Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), who authored the companion bill in the House. These two lawmakers truly are champions of our profession.
We also owe gratitude to the groups that supported our efforts, including:
The Wolf Administration - View letter of support from the Governor's Policy Office
Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania - View letter of support
Pennsylvania Rural Health Association - View letter of support
Pennsylvania Association of Certified Nurse-Midwives - View letter of support
Villanova University / Crozer-Chester Medical Center Nurse Anesthesia Program - View letter of support
Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthetists Programs - View letter of support