There is an effort to eliminate physician involvement from patient care. Removing physicians would negatively impact patient safety, lead to higher costs, and would not increase access to care.
Current law maximizes patient safety
Physicians are trained to make critical medical judgements. When there is an emergency, physicians have the required training and experience to act quickly and save lives.
Health care teams working together, led by physicians, are critical to having the safest outcomes for patients.
Eliminating physician involvement in patient care will raise health care costs
Eliminating physician involvement in patient care would result in increased health care costs due to critical medical errors, inappropriate prescribing and unnecessary referrals and testing.
In Veterans Health Administration health records, researchers recently found that nurse practitioners had higher medical resource utilization but less favorable patient outcomes in emergency department visits.
Patients treated by nurse practitioners had lengths of stay that were 11% longer and costs that were 7% higher. Nurse practitioners also had a 20% increase in 30-day preventable hospitalizations as compared to physicians. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, “The Productivity of Professions: Evidence from the Emergency Department,” October 2022)
Eliminating physician involvement will not increase access to health care
A change in how nurses practice will not increase the number of health care providers in the rural parts of the state.
In the states that passed legislation expanding scope of practice, there is no positive correlation to an increase in health care providers in rural areas. According to research from the American Medical Association (AMA), physicians and nurse practitioners tend to practice in the same areas of the state.
Policymakers should focus on incentives such as higher pay and education loan repayment programs, which would make practicing in rural areas more attractive, rather than eliminating physician involvement in patient care.
North Carolina Patient Safety Coalition
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