As we have discussed before, the medical system in Connecticut is facing struggles, some of which could negatively impact patient care. Some claim that a change to a Connecticut law concerning nurse practitioners (NPs) could help the state address these struggles.
NPs are trained to perform a wide variety of health care tasks. However, Connecticut law currently restricts the type of care NPs can provide. Specifically, NPs are not allowed to practice independently.
Many NPs in the state have been pushing for a law change which would remove this restriction. A bill proposing this change was considered in the past, but it did not pass. The legislature is expected to consider a similar bill this year.
Supporters of the proposed law change claim that giving NPs an expanded role in the state’s health care system would have many positive effects. Some argue that allowing NPs to practice independently could help address the state’s doctor shortage, as more medical professionals would be available to see patients.
If this turned out to be true, it could help reduce the delays patients are experiencing when they try to receive medical care in the state. Also, it could reduce the pressure that many doctors are currently facing because of heavy workloads. This could improve the overall quality of care that medical professionals provide patients and could potentially reduce the occurrence of medical negligence.
Some doctors claim that NPs should not be allowed to practice independently because they do not have the same amount of training as physicians. Thus, could allowing NPs to practice independently expose patients to inferior medical care and malpractice? It largely depends on the type of care independently practicing NPs would provide. As long as an NP limited their care to procedures and methods that they received training in, the quality of patient care in the state would likely not be compromised by allowing these nurses to practice independently.
Thus, the proposed removal of the legal restrictions on NPs brings up some interesting and important issues. It will be interesting to see if this law change is ever made and what effects it has if it is.
Source: The Hartford Courant, “Nurse practitioners seek bigger role in Conn. care,” 4 Feb 2011