WUFT News

Florida House Bill Proposes More Authority for Nurse Practitioners

By on February 12th, 2014

Nurse practitioners are looking to get more authority in the workplace with a bill that will be discussed in a Florida House select committee meeting Monday.

The proposal addresses the shortage of health care physicians as well as the ability for nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances and provide care without physician supervision.

According to Susan Lynch, the vice chairman of public affairs for Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, many of the restrictions on nurse practitioners should be lifted to improve health care in Florida.

Lynch said that patients don’t have access to basic primary care needs and nurse practitioners are unable to help because of legislative restrictions.

Nurse practitioners receive four to five years of direct clinical training and are tested by national certification exams that should qualify nurse practitioners to prescribe medications for their patients, Lynch said.

“The current laws are very outdated and they need to be modernized in order for nurse practitioners to be able to meet those needs,” she said.

Lynch also mentioned that Florida is the only state that a nurse practitioner cannot prescribe controlled substances or obtain a Drug Enforcement Administration license.

“There are no safety or quality reasons why an advanced practice registered nurse cannot have a DEA license or prescribe those medications,” Lynch said. “But there is evidence from 49 other states that they are safe.”

According to the Department of Justice, while other states do allow nurse practitioners to obtain DEA licenses, several do not allow them to prescribe the strongest categories of controlled narcotics, such as morphine or amphetamines.

Erin VanSickle, vice president of communications for Florida Medical Association, believes the bill will do more harm than good.

“Florida is currently experiencing a physician shortage and a nursing shortage in our state,” VanSickle said. “In order to maintain access to quality patient care, the FMA believes that there is a different and better way than by covering it up with another problem.”

VanSickle said the bill would unleash tens of thousands of new practitioners in the Florida community with the ability to prescribe narcotics.

Florida Medical Association has proposed what VanSickle said she believes is a better solution: a five-point plan which includes targeted funding for family practice residencies and reimbursing family physicians serving Medicaid patients.

“There are many different ways we can expand access for care to Florida patients,” VanSickle said. “We just don’t think [the bill] is the most appropriate one.”


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  • Susan Lynch

    The problem of unscrupulous physicians prescribing thousands of highly addictive narcotics has essentially been eliminated with the narcotic reform legislation that was enacted three years ago.

    NPs in Florida will follow the same laws as physicians when it comes to prescribing these medications. But this bill is more then just modernizing the prescribing laws, it is about removing barriers that prevent people from getting health care.

    Many physicians support this bill, including Rep Cary Pigman MD who is Vice Chair of the committee writing this bill.

    It is time to stop fear mongering. People need access to health care and NPs can provide that care , safely and with equal quality as physicians.

    • Jason Simpson

      Nonsense — the narcotic epidemic has NOT been “solved.” There are still 50 pain medicine clinics in Broward county handing out oxycontin for $200 cash.

      • Joe V.

        Maybe pain medicine clinics are not the answer? Bringing pain management back into the holistic care model would allow for one practitioner, be it a physician or nurse practitioner, to provide care or the patient including non-narcotic options. Collaboration with pain management specialists and pharmacists could assist in reducing the number of misused narcotic prescriptions as well.

  • Jason Simpson

    Florida has a narcotic epidemic. Why do we need more unscrupulous nurses to hand out narcotics like candy just like the unscrupulous doctors who ruined this state?

  • djmatte

    Passing a law like this is not only good for the NP’s who currently practice in florida, but also for florida as a whole. Those of us who are mobile are cherry picking the best environments to work and the states who choose not to give more autonomy are losing out in the long run.

  • ksasser

    Pain clinics in Florida are not a problem caused by ARNPs. Florida is behind in times and is limiting the relief for physicians by not allowing ARNPs to have DEA numbers and prescribed narcotics. It certainly makes those of us who are considered valuable employees consider moving to states which are more appreciative of ARNP care!

 

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