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Nurse Practitioners and Independent Practices Can Cut Healthcare Costs

Guy DiMartino
Nov. 4, 2014

Michigan City Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses a recent article explaining that allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently can cut healthcare costs.

It's a great premise. Using mid-level practitioners to handle general practice needs on their own without having a collaborate agreement with a physician to review files and assist on more difficult cases. Most healthcare conditions are self limiting but something has to be lost in the long run if nurse practitioners are going to practice independently. Nurse practitioners have an equivalent of a masters level education, doctors have an undergraduate degree, a medical degree, one year internship and three years of residency in their specialty, something has to be gained from the extra schooling and clinical practice residency.

In the November issue of Health Affairs, researchers looked at this issue and concluded that eliminating restrictions on nurse practitioner's scope of practice could have a large impact on the cost of providing medical care. In sum, it is cheaper to have a nurse practitioner perform medical care.

While it may be cheaper- there has to be an impact on patient care. What happens to the 1/100 patient that has a condition that needs a doctor's level of knowledge and the condition is not diagnosed by the nurse practitioner and the patient is seriously injured or dies.

This is something that society is going to have to decide, are we okay with lowering costs and possibly sacrificing care. Most people may say that the trade-off is worth it until something bad happens to them or a loved one.

What are your thoughts about increasing nurse practitioners scope of practice and allowing them to practice independently? And if you're okay with allowing nurse practitioners to practice independently should they be held to the same standard if they misdiagnosis patients?