PA law will expand nurse-practitioner role

It appears Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) will sign a bill today expanding the permitted scope of practice for the state's nurse practitioners. The move is part of a package of changes being pushed by Rendell as part of his health reform agenda for the state. The new law will allow nurse practitioners to perform new functions, including ordering wheelchairs, treating chronically ill patients in their homes and referring patients to specialists like occupational therapists. The new law also will give other professionals new powers; for example, certified midwives will get prescribing powers, and dental hygienists will be allowed to clean teeth without direct dentist supervision.

The director of the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform, Rosemary Greco, says giving nurse practitioners greater freedom will mean some patients face shorter waits for care, as they'll no longer be waiting in line for scarce physician time.

To learn more about the new legislation:
- read this The Philadelphia Inquirer piece

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