A Colorado state appellate court in Denver upheld a lower court decision today to allow nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia without physician supervision in the state's critical-access and rural hospitals.
The case has pitted the state's doctors against the governor, hospitals and nurses in what has turned into a scope-of-practice fight in 16 states—including California, where the state Supreme Court last week also ruled in the nurses' favor.
Federal law requires physician supervision unless states submit signed letters from the governor to the CMS opting out of this requirement stating that doing so is “in the best interest of state citizens and consistent with state law.” Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter had submitted such a letter on Sept. 27, 2010. The next day, the Colorado Medical Society requested an injunction ordering the governor to opt back in. Ritter's successor John Hickenlooper filed a motion to dismiss the society's suit which was granted by the district court on April 8, 2011.