Legislators Referee a Nurses-versus-doctors turf war

The latest effort by state legislators to referee disputes between various professional groups concerns whether nurse practitioners, physician assistants and the like can give shots of pain medication that involve an injection near the spine…. or whether a specialized, full-fledged doctor must be on hand to supervise.
So the docs have a bill (HB1896) that would make it illegal for less-qualified medical personnel to handle such a procedure. It passed the Senate earlier this year, but stalled in the House and is being studied in the off season. . TNReport and WPLN have write-ups on the turf war.
From WPLN’s Daniel Potter:
Opponents argue it’s a solution without a problem, saying there’s no evidence of harm. Sharon Adkins directs the Tennessee Nurses Association.
“The board of nursing has received no complaints against nurse practitioners who perform these procedures, nor have malpractice insurance rates raised in anyway.”
But that doesn’t mean they’re always doing as good a job as a specialized pain doctor, argues Graf Hilgenhurst, an M.D. who practices in Smyrna.
“There is a small but real risk of doing serious harm to a patient. There is a much greater risk of squandering healthcare dollars and doing no good.”
Tussles like these test the boundaries between doctors and mid-level providers, and could become more common in coming years. That’s as growing patient demand could lead more to physician assistants and nurse practitioners for care.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner says each side is looking out for its own interest.
“We also have to decide ‘Is this a turf battle?’ Because most of the time when we see these bills they’re turf battles. And we have to decide is this a turf battle, or is this actually going to help the people of Tennessee?”
And the role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants is only growing, says Republican Matthew Hill, who chairs the House’s general subcommittee on health.
Hill says the federal healthcare overhaul will make Tennessee more reliant on such midlevel providers to offer all kinds of care. He says that means lawmakers have to make sure they’re well trained for the task.

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