HLD, v. 33, n. 8 (August 2005)
New Jersey High Court Finds Anesthesia Regulations Are
The New Jersey high court found that regulations
governing the administration of anesthesia were within the legal authority of
the Board of Medical Examiners and were not arbitrary.
The New Jersey State Board of
Medical Examiners (Board) adopted regulations establishing that anesthesia may
only be administered by physicians meeting certain standards or by Certified
Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) under the supervision of a physician meeting
the standards. The New Jersey State Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NJANA)
challenged the regulation and the appeals court stayed implementation of the
regulations pending the outcome of the action.
The appeals court rejected NJANA's
contention that the regulations were arbitrary and instead upheld them citing
the Board's authority over the practice of medicine, the presumption of
validity of administrative regulations, deference granted to administrative
agency decisions, and the differences in training between physicians and CRNAs.
Jersey Supreme Court affirmed, relying on the appeals court's "thorough and
thoughtful opinion." The high court added that the courts' job is only to assess
the legality of a regulation and not its wisdom. The high court concluded that
the Board had the legal authority to promulgate the rule and that there was a
basis for its enactment.
holding, the high court rejected NJANA's argument that the regulations were
arbitrary because there was no evidence that they would enhance the safety of
patients under anesthesia. The high court found instead a "wealth of testimony"
given at hearings on the regulations that "supported the need for enhanced
education and oversight." Accordingly, the high court affirmed the validity of
Ass'n of Nurse Anesthetists v. New
Jersey Bd. of Med. Exam'rs, No. A-92-04, 2005 WL
1521778 (N.J. June 29, 2005).
To read the case, go to http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/a-92-04.pdf
Health Lawyers thanks Lisa D. Taylor, of St.
John & Wayne, L.L.C. in Newark, New Jersey,
for sending us a copy of this opinion.