Another presumably well-intended government intervention in healthcare. This time, the state of Georgia wants to shift responsibility for professional nursing activities to the least-trained members of the healthcare team.
The bill will allow an unlicensed person who is trained by a Registered Nurse (RN) to perform some services — such as administering medication and keeping watch over a home patient on a ventilator — that now require RNs.Not surprisingly, the bill's backers share a justification. The bill, sponsored by Representative Jimmy Pruett (R-Eastman, is estimated to effect 800 Georgians who would be turned out of their current skilled nursing placement, saving the state hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The bill has been endorsed by an employment agency that provides certified nurse assistants for as little as $10 per hour.
Provider organizations have thus far declined to comment on the bill until they've taken sufficient time to read and comprehend the proposed legislation.
As I've noted in another post, there is a reason current regulations and standards of practice require professional level skills. Patient safety is the primary and perennial consideration. Before he became known for his opposition to healthcare reform, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley made periodic headlines with hearings into the shortcomings of nursing homes. While the Senator's reports tended to inflame rather than inform, specific rules addressing real problems did result, and the safety of patient care did improve.
The Georgia proposal attempts to cope with budgetary issues but risks compromising quality of care. I hope the consideration of this bill begin to center more on the welfare of the vulnerable than the bottom line of the budget.