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Health Care

Nurse Practitioners Get Small Victory Toward Expanded Powers In Florida


Several bills working their way through the Florida Legislature would give nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe stronger medications and clarify other duties.

A second Senate committee has approved a bill that spells out the ability of highly trained nurses, known as practitioners, to order controlled substances in the hospital.

Senator Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, is a registered nurse who sponsors the bill. She gave the Senate Finance and Tax committee a brief explanation about prescribing versus ordering.

“Prescribe is when a prescription is written and taken to the pharmacy. Order is when it’s ordered in the hospital,” Grimsley explained.

State statutes weren’t clear about the ability of nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, known as PA’s, to order drugs like narcotics in the hospital. So two years ago, lawmakers drafted legislation clarifying that PA’s can order drugs. At the time, they didn’t change the wording regarding nurse practitioners. This new bill is meant to take care of that.

A separate bill would give nurse practitioners and PA’s the ability to prescribe controlled substances, which is allowed in most states.  But the Florida Medical Association and other doctor groups say a higher level of training should be required, and they oppose the bill. The proposal is ready for a full vote by the Florida House.