More Freedom to Nurse Practitioners

Victor Zamora, right, gets his Tdap shot from pediatric nurse practitioner Jenny Lu, right, in Tustin, Calif., in this photo taken on Aug. 18, 2011.
(Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong)

Victor Zamora, right, gets his Tdap shot from pediatric nurse practitioner Jenny Lu, right, in Tustin, Calif., in this photo taken on Aug. 18, 2011. (Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong)

Florida has the tightest restrictions on nurse practitioners in the country. But Concerns of a physician shortage have lawmakers looking to expand nurse practitioners responsibilities in Florida. Opponents fear expanded responsibilities will backfire for patients.

A push is underway to loosen restrictions on nurse practitioners in Florida. Under current law, nurse practitioners like Laurie Grissman are required to have a doctor’s signature before prescribing certain medications and doing procedures for patients. “They only sign once a week, so if something happens on a Wednesday, come Thursday if something goes wrong they have to wait a week to get something signed.”

State Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda is pushing for changes to make sure all Floridians have access to quality healthcare in Florida by expanding nurse practitioners responsibility – especially as the number of physicians decrease in the state. “We need to make sure its not a turf war that we’re thinking about, that its common sense we’re thinking about, that we’re thinking about the patients in Florida that don’t have access that need quality healthcare and need it at lowest cost.”

The cost of getting doctor approval costs big bucks.

Dr. Linda Young/University of Florida – Jacksonville says the cost needs to be lower. “I spend a heck of a lot of money, to be exact over 70-thousand dollars worth of money goes to signatures from physicians and not one of them ever sees my patient.”

State lawmakers held a workshop on loosening restrictions Friday. Those in support say it will help Floridians gain access to healthcare facilities, while opponents say it will put more Floridians lives in danger.”

Dr. Young, “I anticipate there will be an increase in morbidity and mortality in the patient and they will get less quality care and the patients’ safety is at stake.”>

Physicians say they support a team approach, but not a full reform to the current laws.

Nurse practitioners have at least a Master’s Degree in Nursing, pharmacology or other specialties, and many hold a PH.D.


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