Soon-to-be law will mean patients get prescriptions sooner in SC

(Source: WIS)
(Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Nurse practitioners and doctors in South Carolina are praising a soon-to-be law for gr anting more access to healthcare for patients in rural communities.

It would allow for fewer emergency room visits and it would get prescriptions to people sooner. The bill, S.345, expands the scope of what nurse practitioners are able to do without direct approval from their supervising physicians; it means they will be able to write more prescriptions without the supervisor sign-off, and also that clinics can open beyond the 45-mile limit from the supervisor currently written in the law.

Until this bill officially passes, De Anna Cox feels state government prevents her from providing the best care possible to her patients at the Carolina Family Practice in Columbia. Nurse practitioners like Cox treat illnesses from sinus infections to hypertension and can write some prescriptions without a supervising doctor's approval, but not all.

"I've had a patient that needed a wheelchair, and so had to wait," Cox, APRN, FNP-BC, explains, "it takes a little explaining to them it's just the way the law is."

Handicap placards and diabetic shoes also make the list of things nurse practitioners cannot write prescriptions for without the physician's sign-off.  Some medications are also on the list of things that can get tied-up waiting for approval, like Ritalin for ADHD, and certain painkillers for things like kidney stones.

"The inconvenience to the patient is, they may need to come back or wait until we mail them what they need," adds Toriah Caldwell, APRN, FNP-BC.

But that's soon to change, as a bill is signed into law.

"This bill keeps the physician at the head of the healthcare team but that offers the best quality care, the best outcome, the patient safety, but now hopefully our reach through the nurse practitioners will go into our rural areas and beyond," March Seabrook, MD, says.

Dr. Seabrook is the President of the South Carolina Medical Association. Doctors will have a written plan between them and those they supervise, to give those nurse practitioners more freedoms.

Once the governor signs this bill, it goes into effect on July 1.

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