Put up your dukes! The New York Post has picked a fight with nurse practitioners. Last week, the sensationalist newspaper published an article titled “When a nurse is your health-care provider, you’re at risk”. Did you read the story?
I’m generally not someone to get angry over news stories or to take offense at other’s opinions. I’m pretty go-with-the-flow. But, I will say when I read the New York Post’s (unfounded) opinion piece about nurse practitioners, I was pretty peeved. The one-sided article was incredibly flawed in it’s assertions. Maybe that’s OK, because author Betsy McCaughey’s portrayal of nurse practitioners was so errant it came across as uneducated and ignorant.
Last year, New York lawmakers passed the Nurse Practitioner Modernization Act making it possible for NPs with more than 3,600 hours of experience to practice free of physician supervision. Nurse practitioners must still maintain collaborative relationships with physicians but no formalized process is required. These collaborative relationships do not need to be filed with the state or meet specific metrics. The new legislation took effect on January 1st this year.
As a result of this new legislation, the New York Post warns New Yorkers to “ask whether your health-care provider is a doctor” the next time they find themselves as patients. “Some nurses are playing doctor”, the article urges. The piece contends that nurses have gained legal rights as a result of aggressive lobbying but don’t actually have the know-how carry out these freedoms with sound medical practice.
My biggest beef with McCaughey’s op-ed is her allegation that nurse practitioners are trained to treat symptoms, rather than practice based on “how organs and the body work”. Really? She cites an arbitrary example about insulin resistance and a pancreatic duct obstruction as proof.
In the example, related to McCaughey by a physician, the doctor recalls treating a patient for insulin resistance. He determines the patient’s problem is caused by a gallstone lodged in the pancreatic duct rather than the more common cause of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes. The physician giving the example asserts that nurse practitioners would have assumed the patient with insulin resistance had adult onset diabetes and treated accordingly rather than identifying the actual cause of the patients problem. The story is presumptive, not an actual example of a nurse practitioner’s diagnostic mistake.
McCaughey’s article in the New York Post cites other problems with less restrictive legislation surrounding NPs. She claims that nurse practitioners don’t actually save precious healthcare dollars because they order too many diagnostic tests as a crutch for lack of competency. She assumes that industry funded studies concerning nurse practitioner practice safety records are flawed. Her assumptions aren’t backed by data, but are simply speculation.
What are your thoughts on the New York Post editorial?
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