Proposed legislation that would allow some nurses to practice independently risks patients' safety, a group of pain specialists told legislators today.
Bills sponsored by state Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato and state Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, would give highly trained nurses independence by granting full practice authority to nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists.
During a press conference today, doctors voiced their opposition to a provision in the bill that they say would expand the scope of practice for nurse anesthetists. They say the bill is a dramatic departure from widely accepted best medical practices.
Dr. Hayley Sheldon, an interventional pain physician, said the legislation would allow some advanced practice nurses to perform epidurals and other pain interventions without a doctor's supervision.
"We cannot afford to lower Minnesota's standard of patient safety and care by allowing unqualified people to perform these extremely precise and potentially dangerous procedures," Sheldon said.
The Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists contends doctors are using scare tactics to discredit nurses.
Linda Huber, the association's president, said her members want to provide rural patients with more access to pain treatments, including epidurals. She said nurse anesthetists have no interest in doing complicated pain procedures.
"We want to provide access to the rural areas and yes, we are definitely involved in safety," Huber said. "But I think this is an effort on their part to discredit us."