WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Many agree that there is a serious shortage of primary care doctors in Florida.
But lawmakers are debating whether or not nurse practitioners should fill the gap.
A new bill would give nurse practitioners more autonomy -- allowing them to prescribe controlled substances like pain medicine and allowing nurse practitioners to have their own practices.
"One of my patients sat three days without any pain medication and in many circumstances I send patients to the emergency room when I can't get my prescriptions signed off on. So we're wasting Medicare dollars and we're making patients suffer," nurse practitioner Laurie Grissman said.
Grissman owns Mobile Medical Associates in Stuart.
"In four years, I've spent over $250,000 paying physicians to sign my protocols and none of them have eer seen any of our patients," Grissman said.
The Florida Medical Association is against the bill and released this statement:
“The FMA opposes nurses’ efforts to practice independently and prescribe narcotics because it is dangerous for patients. There is no evidence that such broad based expansion will reduce costs to the healthcare system. While the FMA values physician extenders and the important role they play in the healthcare team, allowing them to practice independently and prescribe narcotics is unnecessary and unsafe. We know that the projected shortage of doctors and nurses is a very real concern to every Floridian, and we will continue our work to expand patients’ access to care in a way that is safe and affordable for patients.”
Grissman says it is all about money and power.
"I spend $70,000 a year on collaborating physicians that have never seen my patients," Grissman said.
If the bill passes, nurse practitioners would have to work three years before they could open their own practices and it would apply only to primary care medicine.