Nurse Practitioners in B.C. Now Allowed to Admit and Discharge Patients

By Drews, Keven | The Canadian Press, October 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

Nurse Practitioners in B.C. Now Allowed to Admit and Discharge Patients


Drews, Keven, The Canadian Press


Nurse practitioners get expanded role in B.C.

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VANCOUVER - The B.C. government is giving nurse practitioners more authority in a move that Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says will make the health-care system more efficient, especially in rural communities, saving doctors, nurses and patients time.

MacDiarmid announced Thursday that nurse practitioners will be able to admit and discharge patients, an expansion to their current roles that include diagnosing, prescribing and ordering diagnostic tests to treat common medical conditions.

But Dr. Shelley Ross, president of the BC Medical Association, which represents physicians, medical residents and students, said in a statement that doctors should remain the team leaders who oversee patients' care.

MacDiarmid said until now, nurse practitioners, who have more training than registered nurses, had to wait for somebody else to sign off on the admissions and discharges of patients.

"So what we're doing now is something that I think really makes sense: that for the patients that they're providing care for, they can now do that admission and discharge and make things more efficient," said MacDiarmid.

She said she could envision scenarios where patients were ready to be discharged but had to wait, sometimes for hours, for somebody, often a doctor, to sign off and let them go.

Small, rural hospitals are not always staffed by doctors, she added, noting there were times when she was working as a physician in Trail, B.C., and a doctor wouldn't be in the hospital.

The announcement earned praise from Opposition NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who called it a "good idea" that helps make the health care system more efficient and builds on professional strengths of nurse practitioners.

He said gaps in the health-care system are much bigger in rural areas of the province, noting, for example, that about 15,000 people in the region surrounding Kamloops, B.C., are currently without a family physician.

Dix said nurse practitioners can help fill those gaps and also assist patients who are dealing with chronic diseases, like Type 1 diabetes. …

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