Friday, October 12, 2007

Fox in the Hen House hunting Witches

I recently learned about something very disturbing...the American Medical Association formed a group called the Scope of Practice Partnership (SOPP), whose mission is to launch investigations of unlicensed “midlevel providers” and to support initiatives to fight legislation expanding the current scope of practice for licensed “midlevel providers”. If you search "Scope of Practice Partnership" you'll find some interesting and really scary stuff -- unlicensed "midlevel providers" would include non-Certified Nurse Midwives ("lay" or "direct entry" midwives) in states where licensure isn't available, even if those midwives were CPMs and thus, license "ready". If you read between the lines (and on top of them too) you can see that "investigations" is a nice way of saying prosecution and of course, they also oppose legislation introducing licensure to these sorts of health care providers. Licensed "midlevel providers" include the following: chiropractors, advanced practice nurses (aka nurse practitioners), nurse anesthetists, optometrists, podiatrists, physical therapists and psychologists. This whole thing is being sold as an attempt to "ensure quality health care" but my answer to that would be deal with your own lousy health care before you started trying to "fix" someone else's. We all know how well most physicians do with individualized care...Log in the eye anyone?

Alternatively, I've seen it described as a "clearinghouse of information about non physician providers' educational preparation, licensure requirements, and state legislation and regulation regarding scope of practice." The big question is, what do they plan on doing with the information? Oh, well, whenever there is a "scope of practice question" (that would be some non-physician profession encroaching on the income source of the physicians in that state or states) this information can be used to "address the issue" or even better "develop model legislation that can help resolve that concern." A specific example would be nurse practitioners -- currently, the education level to be a nurse practicioner is at the Master's level. There is a move in the nurse practitioner community to move to a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, rather than a Master's degree. Why is this a bad idea? Why, it would allow nurses to call themselves doctors! And heaven knows, we can't have that...gosh, are they going to come after me too? After all, I call myself doctor....I'm sorry, but physicians don't have a lock on the generic term "doctor".

I think it is most baldly put in this direct quote from AMA resolution 902 : “that state medical boards shall have full authority to regulate the practice of medicine by all persons within a state, notwithstanding claims to the contrary by boards of nursing, mid-level practitioners or other entities.” Needless to say, they define "practice of medicine" very very broadly. Resolution 902 also asserts that “patients may be put at risk for injury or death . . . receiving care from persons
who are not physicians (MD [medical doctor] or DO [doctor of osteopathic medicine])” It is important to realize that there is NO evidence to support this statement and the AMA has been unable to substantiate it. But then again, we all know that patients are never "put at risk for injury or death" by the actions of physicians....who practice only the most scrupulously careful, up-to-date, gold standard medicine, of course.

This is a bully stealing the lunch money from the smart kid, who also happens to be a really nice kid too.

If you'd like to read some analyses of this, I've collected links here:

Coalition for Patients' Rights
Dynamic ChiropracticJune 6, 2006, Volume 24, Issue 12
Dynamic ChiropracticDecember 31, 2006, Volume 25, Issue 02
National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers
Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing • Volume 11, Number 2
American Dietetic Association
The Integrator Blog
Maryland Optometric Association
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

Interestingly enough, I had a chance to discuss the quality empathetic and humane care pregnant women get from "doctors" the other night. For those who don't already know, I'm a Veterinarian and I work at a Veterinary ER Center -- I'm the person you see when your dog gets hit by a car or your cat blocks in the middle of the night (or on the weekend or the holiday, of course). I really love my work and the hours allow me to be other things besides a Veterinarian as well. When I'm working a weeknight overnight shift, I usually have 1 LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician -- basically the Veterinary equivalent of a Registered Nurse -- they have 4 year degrees and have to pass a written and practical exam to be licensed). Anyway, we were discussing the recent birth events of another employee and I was expressing my disgust at how predictable things are most of the time -- this woman ended up with a cesarean she really didn't want at all and the way she got there was distressingly familiar to me. And my LVT, who is single, childless and in her 50's said all the right things...she was absolutely horrified that over 1 in 3 babies is born surgically. She was amazed that anyone could possibly think its a better way to have a baby. She was shocked that more women are dying in childbirth now than they were a year earlier...she was disgusted at the way OBs manipulate women at the end of their pregnancies when they are tired and exceedingly hormonal.

Too bad I'm not surprised any longer.



Amanda said...

It's funny, but not...everytime you said "midlevel" I thought in my head "medieval", which THEY probably DO see this "positions" as medieval, ugh. Thus, accurately a "witch hunt."

labortrials said...

Thanks for this post. I knew nothing about SOPP before . . . I'm a "doctor" as well and still treated like an imbecile when I'm in a lovely patient gown.

Shocking to think that chiropractors are considered "midlevel". My chiro is my primary caregiver at the moment.