State may let nurse practitioners act as MDs

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SAN DIEGO — California lawmakers are working on a proposal dealing with the statewide doctor shortage.  It would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to treat patients without doctor supervision.

“The problem is that there probably will be over 2 million newly eligible California residents for health insurance and not enough doctors,” said Hospital Association President and CEO for San Diego and Imperial Counties Steven Escoboz. He spoke to the number of California residents about to get health insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

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A medical assistant takes a child’s weight before seeing his Doctor.

“There aren’t enough doctors to satisfy the demand right now and I believe we need to come up with innovative ways to serve this population,” said Escoboza.

Talks to come up with this proposal are still on preliminary stages and lawmakers plan to give more details of what a measure could look like during a hearing next month, but already there is plenty of criticism from the physician community.

“There has to be a captain on ship,” said physician and San Diego County Medical Association President Dr. Sherry Franklin.

“If I go in for a general physical and I’m healthy there’s absolutely no reason that a nurse practitioner can’t provide that care, the problem is when you come in and there’s something that’s a little off,” Dr. Franklin said. “I think it’s dangerous to put someone on the front lines, that hasn’t been adequately trained.”

Some patients told Fox 5 they were concerned about the risks of being misdiagnosed by someone other than a doctor.

“I would be concerned if I come to see a doctor and there isn’t a doctor,” said Jamil Elbanna, on the way to a doctor’s appointment with his 10-year-old son.

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