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Doctors, hospitals debate role of nurse practitioners

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Updated: 11/22/2013 6:23 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A quiet debate is raging leading up to the 2014 Florida Legislative Session. The role of nurse practitioners is being questioned by organizations representing doctors and hospitals.

Forty-eight other states have passed bills in recent years expanding the scope of nurse practitioners with an expected physician shortage in the next 10-15 years. Florida is one of two states that has not. Doctors said the state is traditionally script when it comes to scope of care. Experts with the Florida Hospital Association said there is "momentum" to get such a bill introduced at the State Capitol.

"(A limited role for nurse practitioners is) not so much preventing people from getting the care they need, it's preventing them from getting it in the most efficient manner," said Martha DeCastro, the vice president of nursing with the FHA.

But the Florida Medical Association believes expanding the role of nurse practitioners is not the best medical model for patients, considering practitioners have about four percent of the medical training hours of doctors. She believes practitioners work best and want to work in a physician-led team. Some practitioners operate independently but are supervised by physicians. DeCastro's organization would like that supervision lifted, along with allowing nurse practitioners to write prescriptions for controlled substances.

"You really never know what you're getting day to day and room to room when you walk into an office, when you walk into see a patient, something as simple as a sore throat may be tonsillar cancer," said Twiggs.

Just last year the state scrapped a plan to give nurses more leeway when it came to administering the Baker Act.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

FM33901 - 12/4/2013 7:41 PM
0 Votes
This story is misleading. Only 17 states allow nurse practitioners to practice independently, not 48. And none of those states showed any improvement in access to care after those laws passed. NPs are a very important part of improving access and can expand the reach of the health care team, but independent practice isn't the way.

Papakilo - 11/22/2013 10:50 PM
0 Votes
Sounds like the beginning of the end of quality medical care from doctors. Swapping doctors for nurse practitioners, for nurses, for Candy Strippers, for witch doctors and then self care. Have you asked to see credentials of non-citizen doctors which have been flooding in to the U.S. during the past 20 years? That is where our medical care is going in a hurry. More of the government 'don't ask, don't tell', as it applies to the quality of doctors we have had in the past. Food for thought?
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