Minn. Doctors Question Nurses Giving Spinal Pain Injections

Updated: 04/21/2014 10:50 PM
Created: 04/21/2014 4:47 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

A subsection of a large bill going through the Minnesota legislature is causing quite the stir in the health care industry.

The bill (HF 435/SF 511) defines the duties and regulation of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs include nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse anesthetists. Supporters of the bill say it removes barriers for APRNs by allowing them to do certain work without a collaborative agreement with a physician.

But it's a section regarding registered nurse anesthetists that has doctors in the field of interventional pain medicine worried.

"Not everything in the state capitol is a matter of life or death, but this qualifies," said Dr. Louis Saeger, the president of the Minnesota Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

Leaders in the field are traveling the state with a skeleton and needles. They're trying to show lawmakers just how dangerous their work can be.

"The thing about interventional pain management is that if an injection or procedure is done even one millimeter off target it can be the difference between pain relief, serious injury or death," said Dr. Andrew Will, the president of the Minnesota of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians.

The subsection would allow registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to deliver nonsurgical treatments for chronic pain.

Saeger said nurses aren't trained to do the procedures.

"We do not need to lower the standards for a highly complex medical sub-specialty that involves but not limited to highly technical, potentially dangerous procedures," said Saeger.

The Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA) is a statewide professional organization of CRNAs. They support the legislation, saying the bill would allow for greater access to health care in rural areas.

Julie Hendricks, a CRNA in Duluth and on the association's board, said they aren't looking to expand their work. The group just wants to keep doing what they are doing.

"The CRNAs that are doing the simpler pain procedures right now don't want to harm their patients, but they want to be able to continue to provide the service to their patients that they've developed relationships with," she said.

Hendricks said CRNAs often administer labor epidurals, but a few specially trained in her field do administer pain injections, such as steroid injections.

The same bill died in the capitol four years because of the conflict around chronic pain medication.

The doctors in opposition to the subsection would like to do an informational audit with the Department of Health to get a better idea of what CRNAs do in Minnesota before they come up with an amendment.

Front Page

  • Man Dies after Medical Emergency in BWCA

    A 27-year-old Duluth man died after falling ill in a remote area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on Monday. The man's name was not immediately released because family members are still being notified.

  • Mesabi Nugget in Hoyt Lakes has been idle since February and will remain idled due to low pig iron prices. Mesabi Nugget, Mining Resources to Remain Idle

    The parent company of Mesabi Nugget and Mining Resources says the two operations are going to remain idle for now. Because of low pig iron prices, Steel Dynamics Inc. said in a quarterly earnings statement that it makes sense to keep the facilities idled for now.

  • 6 from Minnesota Charged with Trying to Join Islamic State

    Authorities in Minnesota have charged six men they say attempted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. A criminal complaint unsealed Monday charges the men with conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

  • Former Death Row Inmate Shares Experiences During UMD Panel

    Nathson Fields, a Illinois man who spent a dozen years on death row, shared his story as part of a Death Penalty panel discussion at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Monday. 

  • Professional Team to Assist Proctor in Future Plan

    The city of Proctor will celebrate a big anniversary later this year, but rather than looking back on it's 120 years, the community is looking to the future with the help of a professional team...


Fire Weather Watch

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Crow Wing; Pine; South Aitkin; South Cass
Expires: 4/22/2015 7:00 PM

Wind Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Clay; East Becker; East Marshall; East Otter Tail; East Polk; Grant; Kittson; Mahnomen; Norman; Pennington; Red Lake; Roseau; West Becker; West Marshall; West Otter Tail; West Polk; Wilkin
Expires: 4/21/2015 7:00 PM