Nurse practitioners in Ontario may soon be able to admit and discharge patients from hospital, helping to make the health system more efficient and saving time for patients, according to the provincial government.
The province is proposing changes to the Public Hospitals Act to allow nurse practitioners to discharge patients beginning July 1, 2011, and to admit patients starting July 1, 2012. The United States, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom currently allow nurse practitioners this authority.
"Ontario's nurse practitioners are leading the way in North America. Now we want to give them the ability to admit and discharge patients, which would help patients get home to their families sooner,” said Dalton McGuinty, premier of Ontario.
The role of nurse practitioners has been expanded in recent years to take advantage of their high level of training and skills. They can prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and are leading North America's first nurse practitioner-led clinics, with 25 in operation by the end of 2012, said the government.
This change would make Ontario the first Canadian province to allow nurses to admit and discharge hospital patients and would help improve the discharge process, it said.
"This is great news for nurse practitioners and for patients. With these changes, the government is recognizing the expertise of NPs (nurse practitioners) and the increased contribution they can make to health care-delivery," said Doris Grinspun, executive director at the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario.
There are 1,850 nurse practitioners entitled to practice in Ontario but currently only physicians, dentists and midwives can admit and discharge hospital patients in the province.
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