Legislation Would Give Certain Nurses Ability to Treat Some Ailments

Article excerpt

Byline: James Evans Daily Herald Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD - Treatment for an ailment may soon turn out to be a visit with a highly skilled nurse instead of a doctor, saving time and money.

Legislation has been introduced at the state Capitol that would give so-called advanced practice registered nurses greater powers, such as the ability to prescribe a lengthy list of drugs.

For suburban consumers, the legislation could mean cost savings on medical bills. Furthermore, legislative supporters say it would provide the elderly and Medicare recipients better access to medical care.

The Illinois State Medical Society agrees in principle with the idea, but opposes the Illinois Nurses Association's proposal. The medical society has introduced its own legislation and has the backing of several suburban lawmakers.

On Thursday, lawmakers and representatives of doctors and nurses met behind closed doors to see if common ground can be found on how to properly allow for the expansion of duties for a small number of nurses. They plan to meet again next week.

Already, many patients receive a substantial amount of care from advanced practice nurses acting under the guidance of a doctor. This legislation would explicitly license some nurses to conduct a more extensive list of duties than they are legally allowed to do.

Some suburban hospital administrators said allowing the four types of these nurses- nurse midwives, certified nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse anesthetists - greater powers would be less costly and provide better patient service overall.

Nearly 4,000 nurses in Illinois would be affected by the legislation if passed. Illinois is the only state in the country that has not passed this type of licensing legislation.

"We think that is kind of the wave of the future," said Eugene Pritchard, the president of Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. "It's more cost efficient. We're waiting for this to happen."

Some legislators and administrators said enhancing the powers of some nurses would give patients more access to care, especially in rural areas where there are fewer doctors. …