Monday, August 20, 2012

Nurse Practitioners as Diagnosticians

The New York Times Magazine of August 19, 2012 includes a problem in medial diagnosis - "The Telltale Heart".  The medical issue at hand concerned a 31-year-old woman with an interesting and esoteric diagnostic dilemma, which after appropriate evaluation turned out to be an unusual complication of Lyme Disease.  But that is not the only compelling fact here.  This case was first posted on August 9, 2012 an the first person to correctly identify the medical problem was a cardiologist from Vermont, who, according to the Times, "credited two nurse practitioners in his office with helping him solve the case."

In my Blog entitled "Medical Care - Payment and Practice (May 30, 2011) I opined as follows:

License nurse practitioners and other similarly trained medical personnel (e.g. physician-assistants) to practice medicine - independently and without supervision by a physician.
There are 158,348 licensed nurse-practitioners in the United States (American College of Nurse Practitioners, 2008). Just imagine the increase in the availability of medical practitioners if even 50% of them would open family practices, supplementing the present number of family practitioners (95,075 in 2009, according to the American Association of Family Practitioners). Nurse practitioners (see Blog July 16, 2008) are perfectly capable of handling the vast majority of medical issues (I would guesstimate some 95%) for which patients visit physicians.

And so we have further evidence of the knowledge and diagnostic capability of non-physician medical personnel.

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