KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

IOM: Nurses Can Take Bigger Role In Medical Care

Nurses could take a bigger role and more responsibility in medical care - a move that could lower costs and stave off a physician shortage - without putting patients at risk, Reuters/Yahoo reports. A report by the Institute of Medicine, which forecasts major doctor shortages exacerbated by an expansion of coverage under the health law, found that despite concerns "that nurses could provide the quality and safety for some areas of primary care… it was very clear from the evidence that nurses can very effectively and safely ... deliver those primary care services," according to a Columbia professor that helped author the report (10/5).

The Hill: "Defending its turf, the American Medical Association (AMA) on Tuesday pushed back against a new report recommending a broader role for nurses in provider settings." In a statement, an AMA official said, "A physician-led team approach to care - with each member of the team playing the role they are educated and trained to play - helps ensure patients get high-quality care and value for their healthcare spending" (Lillis, 10/5).

The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: "The most controversial recommendations of the committee - which includes nurses, doctors, academics and other health industry participants and is chaired by former HHS head Donna Shalala - are likely to be those that deal with so-called 'scope of practice,' i.e. the authority nurses have to order tests, prescribe medicine and perform other medical services" (Hobson, 10/5).

KHN's earlier, related coverage: Nurses' Push For Bigger Role Gets Powerful Ally (Villegas and Carey, 10/5).

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