Anesthesia Practices See Financial Hit as Anesthesiologists Pivot During COVID-19

Anesthesia practices see major financial hit as physician anesthesiologists pivot during COVID-19 to treat patients in critical care and ICUs, ASA survey highlights.

A recent survey of anesthesia administrators and executive members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) finds a majority of physician anesthesiologists pivoted from working in the operating room to treating COVID-19 patients in critical care units and ICUs, making the most of their expertise in intubation, ventilation strategies, and critical care medicine, which includes all aspects of resuscitation with multiorgan failure.

More than 65% of practice respondents added or were asked to add critical care functionality to their practices to help treat the influx of COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, according to the survey. Physician anesthesiologists’ skills and expertise have been vital in the care of COVID-19 patients throughout the worldwide health care crisis.

Importantly, this emergency transformation of anesthesia practices occurred amidst the cancellation of elective or non-emergency procedures throughout the country, creating a major financial setback for a majority of practice respondents. More than 90% of respondents said their case volume has decreased by more than 50% (most were at 70-80%) since the declaration of the national emergency.

Related: ASTRO Survey: Radiation Oncologists Are Seeing A Sharp Drop-Off In Patient Volume, Revenue

The informal, non-scientific survey, which closed earlier this month, captured data on financial issues, staffing concerns, and economic relief options from practices representing more than 4,000 physician anesthesiologists. 

“This survey shows the amazing commitment our members have had in treating COVID-19 patients, even while putting themselves and their families at risk of the virus,” says ASA President Mary Dale Peterson, M.D., MSHCA, FACHE, FASA. “The stories I have been hearing are truly amazing-members leaving their homes to travel to the hard-hit areas of the U.S. At the same time, ASA is committed to helping our members seek out and advocate for economic relief options to help keep their practices afloat.”


ASA has supported the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help anesthesia practices remain economically viable.