Ch 9 - March 22, 2024 10:18 am

A bill headed to the governor’s desk would allow nurse practitioners to prescribe drugs without a doctor’s supervision. But the legislation is getting pushback from lawmakers and doctors in the state.

The bill’s author says it’s meant to increase healthcare access across the state, especially in areas with few physicians. But others argue while there is a dire need for healthcare professionals, this legislation is not the right fix. “This is a way to move Oklahoma forward,” said State Senator Brenda Stanley, (R-Midwest City).

Senate Bill 458 would allow nurse practitioners to prescribe drugs without physician supervision after at least 3 years of experience. “28 other states don’t have physician oversight. Why can’t Oklahoma be that way?,” questioned Sen. Stanley on the senate floor Tuesday.

The measure was written by Sen. Stanley who says this could save the medical field in rural Oklahoma. “There are people that are 80 miles to the nearest doctor but there’s a nurse practitioner closer,” said Sen. Casey Murdock, R, Felt.

Others argue that rural nurses will leave if this legislation becomes law. “In other states where we’ve tried this, the nurse practitioners in rural areas actually leave those areas and go to the urban areas, unfortunately,” said Dr. Diane Heaton, President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association

Dr. Heaton says while nurse practitioners play a vital role in healthcare, studies show that most people want to be treated by a physician.

“A physician has had. that oftentimes 20 times more training than a nurse practitioner,” said Dr. Heaton. “I think that’s an important piece that needs to be understood by our patients. We have considerable data that care is given more economically and with better outcomes and fewer ER visits when done by physicians-led teams.”

She says this will not enhance health outcomes, but says it will lead to unnecessary tests, treatments, and greater healthcare expenses. “That’s like asking me tomorrow to watch a Google or a YouTube video and go do neurosurgery. It’s just not possible.”

Senator Stanley says these nurse practitioners know their role this just expands it. “They can take care of those things that are not life-threatening to give more time to our physicians to treat the bigger things because they do have the education.”

The bill passed off the Senate floor with a vote of 33-13 and is now headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. Dr. Heaton says she is hoping the governor will veto the bill.


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