If you make an appointment to see a nurse practitioner in your physician’s or another doctor’s office, most people want to have some peace of mind knowing that, if something should go wrong, there is a doctor present in the office that can help. And yet, there is currently a bill in the Louisiana legislature that might affect that; A bill currently with the Committee on Health and Welfare would allow nurse practitioners to essentially open clinics and urgent care centers without an attending physician to also be present on-site by removing the requirement that nurse practitioners first have collaborative agreements in place with physicians.
Specifically, SB 187 would eliminate the state mandate in Louisiana requiring nurse practitioners to have formal written agreements with physicians (or dentists, etc.) in order to operate and care for patients, and it would effectively extend this exemption not only to nurse practitioners, but other advanced practice registered nurses such as midwives and nurse anesthetists.
Arguments on Both Sides
Supported by the Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Association has claimed that these collaborative agreements only appear to serve as financial burdens on nurse practitioners, who have to pay physicians to participate in them. However, SB 187 is publicly opposed by the Louisiana State Medical Society due to concerns about collaborative practice agreements being necessary to ensure that nurse practitioners have access to a physician in case one is needed. There appears to be a concern that without some form of physician oversight and supervision, things could go very wrong.
Nurse Practitioners & Litigation
While most-everyone has heard of the term “medical malpractice,” many do not realize that malpractice suits are also sometimes brought against physician assistants and nurse practitioners when these health professionals commit negligence or intentional harm that ends up injuring or killing a patient. Because the state of Louisiana currently mandates a collaborative agreement between nurse practitioners and physicians, this means that, when nurse practitioners are sued, their collaborating physicians are also sued. Not only does this, arguably, mean that a physician is likely to take more care before signing an agreement with a nurse practitioner, as well as become more involved in the work that they do, but it also means that, if this bill passes, nurse practitioners may be sued more frequently for malpractice in general because they would likely end up taking on some of the duties that physicians typically have. Already, just in the last four years, the average malpractice award against a nurse practitioner has gone up almost 20 percent, where most lawsuits are focused on failure to diagnose, diagnose in a timely fashion, treat, and/or making a medication error.
Malpractice Attorneys in Louisiana
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because of a negligent act or by a doctor or any other medical professional, including nurse practitioners and others. This can include errors in diagnosis, treatment, illness management, medication errors, etc.
Our New Orleans medical malpractice attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that victims receive the compensation they deserve if they have been harmed by a medical professional. Contact us today for a free consultation.