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Posted Feb 27 2011 11:54am
Lately, it seems there is ratcheted up rhetoric on nurse practitioner practice making us prime targets for all things anti-NP. The WSJ reports on a study that examined the prescribing habits of NP and whether there is Pharma influence on those habits. The study found that of the 263 survey NP respondents, 93% reported that free gifts had no effect on their likelihood to prescribe the medication that was being detailed by the representative. The study concludes that since many NPs had regular contacts with these reps in the form of face to face and industry backed lunches/conferences, there could be a degree of subconscious influence on prescribing habits - findings that are similar to prescribing habits of our physician colleagues.

As you can see in the comments section that follows the story on the WSJ, some are using this study to once again attack NP practice. The comments are laughable as the insinuation is that NPs aren't really educated on pharmacotherapy and therefore are likely to prescribe whatever medication that the really good looking sales rep sponsoring the free lunch is pushing.

I was curious as to why the author, a nurse practitioner, chose to focus on a fairly volatile topic of Pharma and NP practice. Some searching found that the author, Elissa Ladd, PhD, NP, is out to educate about some of the deceptive practices of Pharma. Here is a YouTube clip of her speaking about this and an on-line interview as well. She serves as the principal investigator of peRx , Prescribing evidence-based therapies. According to the website,

The program was developed to improve awareness of drug development and pharmaceutical marketing practices and to positively impact prescribing behaviors, specifically among advanced practice nurses. An innovative, multi-media, interactive web-based pharmaceutical curriculum has been developed that targets advance practice nurse students and other clinician audiences.

This looks like an interesting program comprised of 4 modules and is sponsored by The Consumer and Prescriber Grant Program . It is available for continuing education credit and I plan on soon completing them.

So here we have a Nurse Practitioner trying to promote evidenced-based practice (that should improve the whole prescribing community practices by focusing on the evidence) yet NPs as a whole are getting slammed as it presents an opportunity to take a shot.

Meanwhile, our NP colleagues (with physicians, patients and our health care allies) in Florida rallied yesterday to garner support for a bill that will allow them to prescribe controlled substances in the state. Florida is currently only 1 of 2 states that do not allow NPs to prescribed controlled substances. The quote that I love goes to Timothy J. Stapleton, executive vice president of the Florida Medical Association:

"Allowing unqualified nurses to play doctor and putting patient safety at risk is not in the best interest of our citizens.”

This one is so easy that it bears no further comment.

As more become aware of nurse practitioner practice, the attacks will also increase. I guess that comes with the territory. It's not really new though as this link to a NY Times article from 1998 referring to the legal recognition of NP practice in New York State also has it's share of opposition. You'd be hard pressed to know it was written nearly 23 years ago since the same arguments remain.
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