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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Doctor shortage looming? Use nurses, report says

Excerpts from an Oct 5 Reuter Health Information News Release

Nurses can handle much of the strain that healthcare reform will place on doctors and should be given both the education and the authority to take on more medical duties, the U.S. Institute of Medicine said on Tuesday.

A report from the institute calls for an overhaul in the responsibility and training of nurses and says doing so is key to improving the fragmented and expensive U.S. healthcare system — President Barack Obama’s signature political initiative.

But the American Medical Association, which represents about 120,000 practicing physicians as well as students and resident doctors, quickly criticized the report.

“Nurses are critical to the health care team, but there is no substitute for education and training,” the group said in a statement. “With a shortage of both nurses and physicians, increasing the responsibility of nurses is not the answer to the physician shortage.”

Nurses already often deliver babies, counsel patients with heart disease or diabetes and care for dying cancer patients — and these roles should be expanded nationally and paid for by both public and private insurers, the report says.

“Nurses have to be full partners with doctors,” said Donna Shalala, a former Health and Human Services secretary who helped write the report. She said it should “usher in golden age of nursing” by allowing nurses to practice “to the full extent of their education and training




October 7, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment


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