Georgia nurses asking Senate for more freedom to treat patients

Nov 07, 2017
Curtis Compton
Nurse practitioner Holly McDonald checks the blood pressure of Sujal Patel of Decatur during a physical exam at the MinuteClinic inside the Virginia-Highland CVS.

The Georgia Senate’s study committee on barriers to access to health care had its final meeting Monday, and is expected to issue recommendations later this year for the coming legislative session.

A key subject is whether highly trained nurses should be allowed more independence in conducting health care. Nursing groups say Georgia is too restrictive, and allowing them to prescribe and order tests more freely could fill gaps, especially in underserved areas. 

The state’s largest doctors’ lobby, however, argues that patient cases can be complex especially when the patient has lacked care, and such cases deserves a doctor’s expertise.

The one subject all agree on is Georgia faces a critical shortage of doctors and health care providers generally, especially in rural areas.  Women may travel 80 to 100 miles to get prenatal care.  In 13 Georgia counties there is no mental health professional of any kind.

Sen. Larry Walker III, R-Perry, who sits on the study committee, said afterward that he thought the nurses would be better than nothing in some areas.  But “I think it’ll be a lot of opposition,” he added.

AJC editor Kevin Riley spoke with the Georgia delegation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 21, 2016.