Dead­line nears on VA nurse scope-of-prac­tice com­ments

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Vir­gil Dick­son

The com­ment pe­riod on a con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal that would ex­pand the scope of prac­tice for ad­vanced prac­tice reg­is­tered nurses at the Veter­ans Affairs Depart­ment ends Mon­day.

Nearly 85,000 com­ments that have been sub­mit­ted so far de­bate the move’s ben­e­fits to pa­tients and its abil­ity to de­crease wait times for veter­ans look­ing to re­ceive care. More than 505,000 veter­ans are wait­listed for 30 days, and nearly 300,000 are wait­ing be­tween 31 and 60 days for health­care ser­vices ac­cord­ing to VA data.

Un­der the rule­mak­ing, ad­vanced nurse prac­ti­tion­ers could ad­min­is­ter anes­the­sia, man­age chronic con­di­tions, eval­u­ate di­ag­nos­tic tests and pre­scribe med­i­ca­tions with­out a physi­cian’s over­sight.

Nurs­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions have launched a na­tional cam­paign to gain sup­port for the rule.

“Too many of our na­tion’s he­roes are need­lessly wait­ing for care in our VA sys­tem,” Cindy Cooke, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers, said in a state­ment. Mean­while, med­i­cal so­ci­eties have ag­gres­sively fought to scrap the pro­posal. “Physi­cians of­fer an un­matched ser­vice to pa­tients and, with­out their skills, pa­tients’ safety would be at risk,” Dr. Robert Wer­gin, the board chair­man of the Amer­i­can Academy of Fam­ily Physi­cians, said in a state­ment.

Veter­ans have sup­ported the pro­posal. “Guys, there is an ac­cess prob­lem,” Ramiro Itur­ralde, a Viet­nam War vet­eran, said in a com­ment to the VA. “Please don’t let the MD lobby mess this up. I pre­fer see­ing the APRNs; they give me bet­ter and more de­tailed care.”


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