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Bill aims to reduce oversight of nurse practitioners in Tennessee

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 18, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill in the state legislature could add Tennessee to a list of about half of the United States, where nurse practitioners have reduced oversight requirements.

Right now, every 30 days, nurse practitioners are required to have charts on patients who were prescribed medication checked by a physician.

However, representatives from Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) said the practice is a burden on practitioners who have trouble finding physicians to fulfill the requirement or find it expensive.

"It's really an issue, not only in the city, but all over the state in our rural areas, we are finding it harder to find physicians who are willing to do this chart sign off," said Julie Mann, president of TNA. "Also, the price increases when you have less physicians in an area to sign off; you're going to have an increased price for that."

TNA has pushed bills to end physician oversight over nurse practitioners in the past; however, this time, they changed the idea to chart oversight ending after three years of practice.

"After 30 days, there's no real action happening to help," said Mann. "It's 30 days after. So, the patient has already gone home with that prescription and has been taking it for 30 days."

People at the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA), an advocacy group for doctors, said they'd like to see chart review continue. They believe it enhances safety for patients.

"The physicians of the state are very concerned," said Dr. Kevin Smith, former president of TMA. "We don't share the same opinion that there's no value to it. We feel like there might be safety issues in having a nurse practitioner not be collaborating with a physician."

Smith's argument is that nurse practitioners don't have the same training or experience as physicians, who often attend school for 11 or more years.

"We feel like it's important for us to work together in teams. We feel like that's important for the patient," he said.

Still, Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order during the beginning stages of the pandemic to pause chart review. Those with TNA feel it's enough proof the chart overview isn't necessary. Smith argued that was a time of emergency and shouldn't apply to normal circumstances.