Anesthesia services increase price tag on GI procedures

Use of an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist for endoscopies and colonoscopies increased substantially between 2003 and 2009, adding to the cost of these procedures, according to a RAND Corp. study published in JAMA. The use of anesthesia services during endoscopy and colonoscopy increased substantially among low-risk Medicare and commercially insured patients. By 2009, 30% of procedures performed for Medicare enrollees and 36% of procedures for patients with private insurance involved a nurse anesthetist or an anesthesiologist, adding about $150 to the total for each procedure covered by Medicare, and $500 for procedures covered by private insurance. CBS News/The Associated Press (3/20), Reuters (3/20)

ACG note: ACG and its sister societies have previously adopted a joint statement on the appropriate use of anesthesia professionals for endoscopy, which can be read here. Restrictions placed upon gastroenterologists and their patients by regulators, institutions and payors can significantly impact the ability of clinicians to choose the sedation agent and technique for providing sedation to enable a safe and thorough examination and the College continues to support a policy that would allow gastroenterologists to determine what is in the best interests of their patients.