Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hamilton Has Doubts about Prescription Bill

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hamilton Has Doubts about Prescription Bill

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

State Rep. Jeff Hamilton, D-Midwest City, is having second thoughts about giving optometrists, chiropractors and nurse practitioners the power to prescribe drugs, he said Wednesday.

Hamilton, who chairs the House Committee on Health and Mental Health, has even introduced legislation to empower nurse practitioners. Nevertheless, if the vote were held today, "I would say I have reservations," he told a news conference.

"I made this decision driving in my car. I made it by myself."

The Midwest City lawmaker said his committee would consider the bills at issue, but couldn't promise an endorsement.

"As I talked with professionals and studied these various pieces of legislation searching for answers to my questions, I came up with more questions than answers," Hamilton said.

"For example, why do these professionals want the authority to prescribe such potent drugs as valium, methadone, cocaine, methamphetamine, steroids and phenobarbital?

"After reviewing the proposed legislation, I am just not sure any of us are properly and thoroughly enough prepared to cast an informed vote for such far-reaching legislation."

Pamela Rollins, with the Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners, said 45 states have some kind of prescription drug authority for advanced practice nurses. Some of the states permit access to controlled substances in drug schedules 2 through 5.

"It would improve access to care, especially in rural and underserved populations," Rollins said. Advanced practice nurses, or nurse practitioners, have a long history and have proved they give quality and cost-effective care, she said.

"Obviously, in particular, advanced practice nurses tend to work with the underserved populations that health care reform is addressing," Rollins said.

"We were educated to provide service at the primary care level for ambulatory care," she said, which refers to outpatient or clinic situations.

Last year, Hamilton carried legislation that granted restricted additional privileges to physicians' assistants. They are required to perform their duties under "tight guidelines" and the supervision of a physician, he said. …

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