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APRNs Provide Care Equal to Doctors, Review Concludes

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 10, 2011

Advanced practice nurses can provide care with patient outcomes that are at least as good as, and in some cases better than, care provided by physicians, according to a literature review by Johns Hopkins researchers.

"The results indicate APRNs provide effective and high-quality patient care, have an important role in improving the quality of patient care in the United States," wrote Julie Stanik-Hutt, associate professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues.

That recognition "could help address concerns about whether care provided by APRNs can safely augment the physician supply to support reform efforts aimed at expanding access to care."

The paper, published in Nursing Economic$, reviewed 107 reports that compared outcomes in treatment of several diseases and conditions, as well as patient satisfaction in care provided by nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists.

The results should influence healthcare policy in paving the way for an "expanded role" for APRNs in healthcare systems and should be incorporated to the fullest extent possible," they wrote.

APRN-provided care "should be expanded to additional settings and populations," restrictions on APRN practice and reimbursement should be modified to test new models of care, and APRNS should be "used to the full extent of their scope of practice," the authors wrote.

Also, billing data should indicate the actual care provider is a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

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