Physicians are there when you need them most – whether it’s caring for a sick child, dealing with life-threatening illness, performing surgery or administering anesthesia – because they are uniquely prepared through their extensive experience to provide you with high-quality care in these situations.
As the practice of medicine has evolved, it’s become widely recognized that the most effective way to care for patients is working as part of a physician-led team, enabling all health care professionals, including non-physician providers such as physicians assistants (PAs) and advanced practice nurses (APNs), to utilize their unique yet complementary skills.
This team-based approach is why patients in New Jersey agree to appointments with APNs and PAs in their doctor’s offices for routine exams, post-op or sick visits. Patients know if there is a concern or questionable finding, the physician – the team member with the greatest amount of education, training and depth of knowledge – is available to the APN to collaborate and most importantly, available to the patient because the APN and physician are working together.
Despite this, an effort is underway in Trenton that would break up the care team by permitting APNs to see patients without the safety net of working with a doctor and other non-physician providers in the proven team-based model.
Newly introduced legislation in the Senate and Assembly, S-1522/A-2286, would allow APNs to see patients without having a collaborating physician and a joint protocol agreement that sets out the parameters of practice to prescribe medications agreed upon by the APN and the doctor.
Additionally, the bill specifically allows APNs to administer anesthesia and manage anesthesia services without supervision of an anesthesiologist, which exposes patients to unnecessary risks. Studies show that APNs practicing independently has resulted in an increase in patient spending on surgery costs and an increased likelihood that patients will be hospitalized after outpatient surgery.
It’s clear – independent practice doesn’t improve access to care or decrease costs but can have dire consequences for patients.
The Access to Care Coalition opposes S-1522/A-2286 because it undermines the responsible team-based approach, promotes an antiquated model of care and advocates for APNs to practice outside of a health care team, without a doctor, and where they are unable to offer patients the depth of skill and knowledge of a doctor – to the detriment of patient care.
The Access to Care Coalition believes that if a doctor isn’t included on your care team, you are not getting the quality of health care you deserve.