A bill that would have granted controlled substance (CS) prescribing authority to Alabama NPs died in the House due to disagreement between the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama (NPAA) and the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA). NPAA disagrees with MASA requests that prescribing authority be controlled by the state Board of Medical Examiners, not the Board of Nursing (BON).
National data support the BON as a single certifying body that regulates nurses, said Lori Lioce, NP, president of NPAA. She added that control of one profession over another is not appropriate. "It sets the professions up for conflict and failure and does not create the best evidence-based patient-centered care!"
NPs in Alabama have been prescribing medications since 1996, but still have not gained CS prescribing authority. Alabama and Florida are the only two states where NPs don't have this authority.
"Nurses have not been in the business of prescribing controlled substances," said Mark Jackson, MASA's legislative affairs director, in The Huntsville Times.
"Wake up," Lioce said, "... medical care has always been provided as an interdisciplinary team." NPAA's goal is to provide what's best for the patient, and many are in pain longer than necessary because they have to wait or make another appointment for a prescription. Alabama NPs work under statutory collaboration with physicians, who must sign off on all controlled substance prescriptions.
Lioce said that a recent study found Alabama nurse practitioners waste 4 hours a week getting prescription orders through physicians. She also said that many of the state's NPs have given up and moved on to states that will allow them to practice to the scope of their education.
"The barriers to practicing here are just unreal," Lioce told The Huntsville Times. The NPAA plans to renew the fight for CS prescribing rights in 2010.