Your Provider: Doctor or Nurse Practitioner?

As the Roanoke Times recently reported, Proposal Calls for Medical Teamwork Between Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Virginia health care providers may soon increase the number of nurse practitioners delivering primary care.

Here is my problem: Patients rarely get to see their doctors anymore. They are pushed off on nurse practitioners, who work very hard on behalf of patients but otherwise cannot provide the same level of care.

Like many recent changes in health care, it is all about money.

I am aware of one local organization that wants their doctors to spend no more than seven minutes with their patients – that’s right, seven minutes per patient.

Why limit patient time? If the doctor limits their time with the patient, they can see many more patients per day.

These same organizations pay nurse practitioners far less than they pay the doctors. The organization lowers costs and increases profits.

So who loses?

The patient.

Under the current system, Nurse Practitioners are supposed to be “supervised” by a medical doctor and this system is bad enough. Last year in the New River Valley we learned of a situation where the doctor who “supervised” the nurse providing care locally lived and practiced medicine in North Carolina. Do you call this arrangement “supervision”? I don’t.

My Take: I know there are many competent and caring nurse practitioners in Virginia. However, there is something to be gained by having that potentially life-threatening problem checked by a medical doctor with four years of medical school, internship, residency, state licensure, and potential board certification.

Unfortunately, it appears the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners have already reached an agreement on the issue. I am sure money had nothing to do with the decision.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.