Doctors, Local Lawmakers Fighting Medical Proposal

Created: 04/16/2014 7:06 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It has doctors and local legislators concerned, but some certified nurses in greater Minnesota say it's needed. 

A bill to give nurse anesthetists the authority to perform interventional procedures for patients with chronic pain is heading to the Minnesota House and Senate for consideration. 

This procedure on the spinal cord is extremely precise. Interventional pain medicine is a practice where if the needle is off target by as little as one millimeter, it can be fatal or cause paralysis. It takes 14 years of education and training to execute it. 

"Compare that to roughly 7 years of training of a certified registered nurse anesthetists," said Dr. Kris Zeller, who attended a press conference to express concerns about the proposed legislation. 

But proponents from the Minnesota Nurse Anesthetists Association say they've been doing it for decades in collaboration with physicians. They also point out that within 60 percent of Minnesota counties, they're the only professionals available to deliver these services. 

The bill is being debated in both the House and Senate, but it's unknown if it will make it to a full vote.