Georgia may be one of the nations’s fastest growing states, but unfortunately, laws pertaining to nurse practitioners in the Peach State aren’t headed in the same direction. Georgia lags perilously behind when it comes to granting NPs freedom in their practice and is one of the states with the most restrictive nurse practitioner scope of practice laws. What does the nurse practitioner role look like in Georgia?
Georgia’s Nurse Practitioner Supervision Laws
Nurse practitioners practicing in Georgia must work under physician supervision. NPs and their physician supervisors must work together under a “nurse protocol”. The nurse protocol is a written document in which the physician gives the NP authority to perform medical acts and also agrees to be available for immediate consultation with the nurse practitioner. Georgia state law refers to this supervising physician as a “delegating physician”.
Delegating physicians in Georgia are required to be immediately available for consultation with the NP. Should the physician not be available, a substitute may be designated as part of the nurse practice agreement. Delegating physicians are also responsible for conducting a review of medical records for patients treated by the NP as well as observe the nurse practitioner onsite at least quarterly. Aside from this quarterly visit, the physician does not need to practice onsite with the NP, just be available for consultation. In Georgia, the delegating physician is held legally responsible for all medical acts performed by the NP.
In a practice with multiple physicians and/or multiple nurse practitioners, a nurse protocol agreement must be agreed upon and signed by one NP and one MD. Each nurse practitioner in the practice is required to have his/her own protocol agreement. While only one MD is to sign the agreement, there is no limit to the number of physicians who can be designated to consult with the NP. A delegating physician may not enter into a nurse protocol agreement with more that four nurse practitioners at one time.
Georgia’s Nurse Practitioner Prescribing Laws
Nurse practitioners were not given the right to prescribe medication until 2006, the last state to grant NPs prescribing ability. Currently, in Georgia, a nurse practitioner’s ability to prescribe must be outlined in the nurse protocol agreement between the NP and MD. Regardless of the terms outlined in the nurse protocol agreement, NPs in Georgia are not allowed to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances. Nurse practitioners are allowed to signs their own prescriptions in Georgia and do not need an MD co-signature.
Other Georgia Scope of Practice Laws
In Georgia, nurse practitioners are allowed to sign handicap parking permits but are not permitted to sign death certificates.
While life for NPs certainly improved with Georgia’s legislation granting nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe, the state remains behind most others when it comes to nurse practitioner independence.
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