Are Nurse Practitioners as Safe as Doctors?

By MatadorAdminPersonal Injury Lawsuits

Have you ever visited a healthcare provider and been shocked when, rather than encountering a doctor, you were treated by a nurse practitioner? Photo of person in wheelchair

You should know that on January 1, the state of New York changed its standard for who can practice medicine, becoming the 19th state in the country to allow nurse practitioners to diagnose, treat and prescribe patients if they have worked under a physician for at least 20 months.

The new standards alarm some medical experts, according to the New York Post, which had an interesting piece about the issue authored by Betsy McCaughey, a fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

Don’t get me wrong: Nurses are the backbone of the health-care system, and generally they’re better than doctors at educating patients and providing many types of routine care,” McCaughey wrote. “But their training is different, and it doesn’t prepare them to do everything doctors do — especially diagnosing less common conditions.”

It should be noted that nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced degrees—although, they do not attend medical school and do not take the same licensing exams as doctors. One doctor reportedly told McCaughey that inexperienced nurse practitioners without enough clinical education would now be allowed to practice medicine.

McCaughey reported that cost savings are why insurers and drugstore chains with walk-in clinics are in favor of replacing doctors with nurse practitioners. Additionally, it has been reported by several news outlets that New York has a shortage of doctors, and some in favor of nurse practitioners say that new standards will help address this issue.

The research on the safety of nurse practitioners in comparison to doctors is not conclusive—according to a 2012 report in the Journal Health Affairs, the clinical outcome of care provided by nurses and doctors who were studied by researchers was very similar.

Can I Speak to an Attorney About Medical Malpractice?

The thought of nurses with less training than doctors treating patients is a little bit alarming. Remember, often, one of the biggest factors in medical malpractice cases is a lack of training, as human error is among the most common negligence issues in healthcare.

If a healthcare provider allows someone who is inexperienced to treat you, you should not have to suffer as a result. Speak to our attorneys. You can also visit our Facebook page, LinkedIn pageGoogle+ page or Twitter page for more information about medical malpractice.

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Injury Lawyers

KGG’s Corner: A 2013 report by the Healthcare Association of New York State said that the state needs about 1,200 more doctors.


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