The following article was published in the Daily Oklahoman on April 7, 2018:


Part of the solution

Oklahoma nurse practitioners submitted a bill last session, House Bill 1013, for full practice authority and level 2 prescriptive authority. Those opposed screamed the opioid epidemic would become worse. What they didn't tell you is there is already a group of highly trained advanced practice registered nurses who have level 2 prescriptive authority in Oklahoma. They've had it for more than 20 years. Those APRNs are certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), who are the only APRNs currently with level 2 prescriptive authority in Oklahoma.

Nearly half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. CRNAs are pain management experts who are uniquely qualified to help solve this problem in Oklahoma. The main issue is persistent opioid use after surgery. More than 2 million people nationwide may transition to persistent opioid use following elective ambulatory surgery. A strategy called enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) is something Oklahomans must know about. ERAS is a patient-centered, evidenced-based, pain management strategy employed by CRNAs to reduce the need for opioids, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. CRNAs use regional anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, non-pharmacologic approaches and non-opioid medications. CRNAs can help patients by decreasing the risk for acute pain transitioning to chronic pain and the development of opioid dependency and abuse. CRNAs want to bring this information to the public and break the cycle of abuse and death in Oklahoma.

Jennifer Schmitt, Edmond

Schmitt is president-elect of the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists