Penn. bill would ex­pand role of nurse prac­ti­tion­ers

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - — Maria Castel­lucci

The Penn­syl­va­nia Se­nate has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that would al­low nurse prac­ti­tion­ers to prac­tice with­out the su­per­vi­sion of a physi­cian.

The bill, which is cur­rently be­fore the Se­nate Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion and Pro­fes­sional Li­cen­sure Com­mit­tee, is de­signed to help ease the short­age of health­care providers in ru­ral and un­der­served ar­eas of the state by eas­ing re­stric­tions on nurse prac­ti­tioner su­per­vi­sion. But physi­cians op­posed to the leg­is­la­tion claim nurses don’t have the train­ing to pro­vide care on their own.

Un­der cur­rent Penn­syl­va­nia law, nurse prac­ti­tion­ers work along­side physi­cians in prac­tices as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tive agree­ment.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would al­low nurse prac­ti­tion­ers to pro­vide care in­de­pen­dent of a physi­cian af­ter they com­plete a three-year, 3,600-hour col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment with a physi­cian. The nurse can prac­tice in­de­pen­dently within the clin­i­cal spe­cialty area they re­ceived their li­cense in.

About 35% of Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dents live in an area with in­ad­e­quate ac­cess to pri­mary care, said GOP state Sen. Cam­era Bar­tolotta, who in­tro­duced the bill.

“Many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties suf­fer from a se­vere lack of health­care ac­cess, forc­ing many pa­tients to travel an hour or more for care,” he said. “Ex­pand­ing the prac­tice au­thor­ity of (nurse prac­ti­tion­ers) is a log­i­cal step to help break down the bar­ri­ers to qual­ity health­care ser­vices.”

The Penn­syl­va­nia State Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion sup­ports the leg­is­la­tion.

But the Penn­syl­va­nia Med­i­cal So­ci­ety, which rep­re­sents 16,000 physi­cians and med­i­cal stu­dents in the state, op­poses the bill and says elim­i­nat­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween physi­cians and nurses will “frag­ment pa­tient care and jeop­ar­dize pa­tient safety.”

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