Doctors, Nurses Wage Turf Battle Over Prescription Authority

Feb 10, 2014

Florida’s powerful physician lobby group is coming out against a proposal that would allow nurses to take on additional roles and duties. The proposal would let nurses write more prescriptions—something the doctors say nurses aren’t trained enough to do.

Right now prescription medicine involves a trip to the doctor’s office. But what if nurses could do the same job? That’s what a House proposal aims to do. The bill would create a new designation: the “Independent Advanced Practice Registered Nurse”, who could perform many of the same duties as primary care physicians—including writing prescriptions. But Florida Medical Association spokeswoman Erin Vansickle says nurses haven’t had the same kind of training as doctors—and the bill could set a dangerous precedent:

 “Since 2011 the legislatures made great strides in combating the pill mill epidemic. This proposed legislation completely contradicts the progress that we’ve made."

Florida is facing a shortage of both doctors and nurses. Some lawmakers want to solve the problem by allowing nurses to expand their responsibilities. But those efforts tend to create turf battles between different provider groups: in this case, nurses and doctors. The proposal has the support of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists and is one of many which will make up this year’s edition of a now-yearly scope-of-practice fight between healthcare providers.