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Senate Committee Action Fragments the Health Care Team

​Date: May 19, 2016

Media Contact:
Chuck Moran
Pennsylvania Medical Society
(717) 558-7820

For Immediate Release

The following is a statement from Scott Shapiro, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and a practicing physician in Montgomery County. He reacts to the Pennsylvania Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee approving SB 717. This bill would allow nurse practitioners to practice without a collaborative agreement with a physician.

Earlier today, the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee, chaired by Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks), took action on SB 717, a bill that would allow nurse practitioners to throw away collaborative agreements and practice independently of physician oversight. Although the measure ultimately won committee approval, PAMED applauds Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia), a member of the Senate Republican Leadership team, for voting against the proposal.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is deeply disappointed in the Committee’s action. By eliminating the collaborative ties that exist between nurse practitioners and physicians, SB 717 removes an important safeguard in patient care and fragments the health care team.

Patient care is best when a team of health care professionals with complementary—not interchangeable—skills work together. With the complexity of our health care system ever increasing, patients need both physicians and nurses, coordinating care and sharing information for the benefit of the patient.

Nurse practitioners have less training and education than physicians, but when physician expertise and leadership is combined with the care of a skilled nurse practitioner, patient care is better. Nothing in current law keeps a nurse practitioner from exercising his or her professional judgement to the fullest extent of their training. Collaboration with a physician as a parameter of practice is not a burden, but rather an assurance of greater expertise immediately available in the care of patients.

SB 717 devalues the importance of the health care team. Let’s not destroy team-based medical care and instead promote existing law that allows both physicians and nurse practitioners to exercise the full range of medical knowledge available at the moment it is needed.

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The Pennsylvania Medical Society was founded in 1848. To learn more about PAMED, visit its web site at or follow on Twitter @PAMEDSociety. Members of the media are encouraged to follow Chuck Moran on Twitter @ChuckMoran7.

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I faxed a strongly worded letter to Gordner earlier in the week so perhaps it did some good regarding his vote. However my policy will be to not accept referrals from Nurse Practitioners. Their organization has claimed for years that NP's are not practicing medicine but rather "advanced care nursing." My policy will be consistent with not accepting referrals from Chiropractors, Dentists and Podiatrists all of whom do not practice medicine or surgery in the same sense as a Doctor of Medicine/Osteopathy. Keep in mind that the #1 cause of litigation against Physicians is the claim of a delay in diagnosis. I will not allow myself to placed in a position for having to defend my care because of lesser trained, lesser knowledgeable and lesser liable practitioners of 'advanced nursing care". Insurers are not in the business to purposely lose money. Any objective analysis will reveal the greater liability of patient's cared for by a NP. Given that, why Med-Mal insurers will not demand a premium to insure them, only the government knows. Finally, will NP's also be 'credentialed' to perform minor surgery? Perhaps we should just go back to the old days and have the barber remove our inflamed appendix, rather than a general surgeon.

Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:22:39 PM

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Friday, May 20, 2016 9:53:09 AM