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Nurses can now treat patients without doctor oversight in Ilinois

If you've gone to gotten sick in the past few years, then there's a strong likelihood that you've actually been treated by a nurse practitioner (NP) instead of a physician. However, if you haven't, then there's a strong likelihood that you soon will be thanks to a new law that was passed in Illinois on Sept. 20. It now allows some nurses to treat patients in lieu of doctors.

The state's new Nurse Practice Act was signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that day. It entitles as many as 13,000 of the state's nurses the ability to not just see and diagnose patients, but write them prescriptions as well. While the new law places restrictions on the types of drugs they're allowed to prescribe, the nurses are largely able to practice medicine without any physician oversight.

Many proponents of the bill have noted that it's ratification would help improve health care throughout the state because it would make it less expensive and more accessible. They also noted that it has the potential to lead to an improved quality of care. They've even cited past studies that have shown that nurses have a better track record of chronic disease control than physicians do.

Its opponents, however, are concerned about these nurses' lack of training necessary to make informed decisions regarding patient care. They fear that errors will occur when they're called upon to carry out a certain tasks or roles that they're not properly trained to handle. These proponents note that they're most concerned that medical errors that nurses would make could become potentially fatal ones.

As for the doctors' concerns, some of the bills' backers noted that only the most highly trained nursing professionals, such as nurse practitioners or registered nurses, qualify for this type of permit. To do so, they must complete 250 specialized continuing education hours and work at a hospital or under the supervision of a physician for at least 4,000 hours.

As more time progresses and more advanced care nurses are treating patients for a variety of ailments, the more apt they are to get in over their heads and make mistakes. If your health declined after you were treated by a nurse practitioner or registered nurse, then a Chicago medical malpractice may advise you of your right to claim damages in your case.

Source: Fox 32 Chicago, "Some Illinois nurses can now diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication," Sally Schulze, Sep. 20, 2017

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