Jan. 18, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 3

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Celebrate National Nurse Anesthetists Week Jan. 20-26

PHOTO Health Science Center certified registered nurse anesthetists work in collaboration with anesthesiologists at University Hospital. Together they determine what anesthetic technique will be best for the patient.

As health care heads into a new era, surgical and obstetrical patients can rest assured that anesthesia has never been safer, according to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA). The Health Science Center's certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) will join CRNAs around the country in celebrating a history of exceptional patient care and anesthesia safety during National Nurse Anesthetists Week, Jan. 20-26. The UTHSC has four CRNAs with more than 20 years of experience. They are: Rinia Cruz, Carolyn Lopez, Elizabeth Sabo and John Weaver.

"Nurse anesthetists have been providing high-quality anesthesia care for more than 100 years," said James Tarpley, chief CRNA for the Health Science Center. "Patient safety is and always has been the No. 1 priority for nurse anesthetists. We administer to the patient's physical and emotional needs, offer reassurance and comfort, and stay with the patient throughout surgery. These are the hallmarks of a CRNA."

Studies have shown a dramatic reduction in anesthesia-related mortality rates during the last 20 years to the present low of one death for every 240,000 anesthetics administered. Tarpley says that because of improved technology and pharmaceuticals and increased education for nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists, anesthesia safety is at an all-time high. According to the AANA, more than 26 million anesthetics are given in the United States each year and CRNAs administer approximately 65 percent of them.

Health Science Center CRNAs provide anesthesia in various settings at University Hospital, including the operating room, the radiology suite, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner suite, the gastrointestinal (GI) lab, the urology suite and the mobile lithotripsy van.

Tarpley said one very important contribution Health Science Center CRNAs provide to University Hospital is 24-hour coverage in the obstetrical unit. "They administer epidurals to patients to relieve the pain of cesarean sections and labor. Their patients are always happy to see them come into the room," he said.

In many hospitals, particularly in rural areas, CRNAs work alone. Tarpley said that in contrast, CRNAs at the Health Science Center are integrated into the department of anesthesiology and work in collaboration with anesthesiologists. Together they determine what anesthetic technique will be best for the patient. The CRNA carries out that plan with the assistance of the anesthesiologists as needed.

The AANA provides guidance and direction to the nation's 28,000 CRNAs. Headquartered near Chicago, AANA has been at the forefront of establishing clinical practice standards for the nurse anesthesia profession for 70 years. For more information about National Nurse Anesthetists Week or the AANA, visit www.aana.com.

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