Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: VA Finalizes Rule on Expanding APRN Scope of Practice

Today, the Veteran's Administration finalized the rule regarding scope of practice for advanced practice nurses when caring for patients in VA care settings.

Also today, the American Medical Association released the following statement:

“The American Medical Association (AMA) is pleased that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) final rule continues to recognize the critical need for collaboration among physicians and nurse anesthetists to ensure patient safety when delivering anesthesia care. 
 
At the same time, the AMA is disappointed by the VA’s decision today to allow most advanced practice nurses within the VA to practice independently of a physician’s clinical oversight, regardless of individual state law. This part of the VA’s final rule will rewind the clock to an outdated model of care delivery that is not consistent with the current direction of the healthcare system.
 
Providing coordinated, physician-led, patient-centered, team-based patient care is the best approach to improving quality care for our country’s veterans, especially given the highly-complex medical care that veterans often require. The nation’s top health care systems rely on these physician-led teams to achieve improved care and patient health, while reducing costs. The AMA expects the same for our country’s veterans, and look to these systems as evidence that physician-led, team-based models of care are the future of American health care.
 
The AMA would also like to acknowledge the VA for clarifying that radiology studies can only be performed and read by individuals who are credentialed in radiology. With over 10,000 hours of education and training, physicians bring tremendous value to the health care team. All patients deserve access to physician expertise, whether for primary care, chronic health management, anesthesia, or pain medicine, in addition to the valuable care provided by advanced practice nurses and other primary care clinicians that are part of the care team.”

Although the SCMA strongly supports the AMA's statement, we believe that the word disappointment is an understatement. The SCMA has expressed our concerns to the VA during the public comment period and we believe that patient safety at the VA will now be undermined due to this final rule. We hope the state of South Carolina will not follow this path which ultimately endangers patient safety. The SCMA has and will continue to advocate for physician-led care in all health care settings.

The SCMA will continue to keep you updated on this issue.