If you need cataract surgery, your eye surgeon may have to do double duty as your anesthetist under a new policy by health insurer Anthem. In a clinical guideline released this month, the company says it's not medically necessary to have an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist on hand to administer and monitor sedation in most cases, according to a report from NPR.
Some ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists say the policy jeopardizes patient safety, and they are calling on Anthem to rescind it.
"The presence of anesthesia personnel is one of the key ingredients in the patient safety and effectiveness of cataract surgery today," says David Glasser, MD, an ophthalmologist in Columbia, Maryland, who is secretary for federal affairs at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "An ophthalmologist cannot administer conscious sedation and monitor the patient and do cataract surgery at the same time."