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Letters: More bang for your medical buck

February 15, 2013

Re "State lacks doctors to fill needs," Feb. 10

Far from a radical idea, the recommendation of state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) to license nurse practitioners to provide the full care they are educated to give is right on the mark. Such measures are already in place in 17 states and in Washington. It is a practice endorsed by many health policy experts, including the Institute of Medicine and the National Governors Assn.

California and Nevada are the only Western states that do not already regulate nurse practitioners under these recommendations. But legislators in Nevada are considering changing that.

Now is the time for Sacramento to close the gap between the quality healthcare nurse practitioners are prepared to provide and what existing state law allows. This solution would be a win-win for all Californians.

Karen Ketner

Redwood City, Calif.

The writer, a nurse practitioner, is the Northern California representative for the American Assn. of Nurse Practitioners.

The article brings critical attention to a growing concern in the medical field: a shortage of trained medical professionals to provide the best patient care.

I wholeheartedly agree with American Medical Assn. President Dr. Paul Phinney's belief that physician assistants and other mid-level professionals are best deployed in doctor-led teams. As physicians dedicated to patient safety, anesthesiologists lead other mid-level providers on anesthesia teams to provide the best care.

Doctors: A Feb. 15 letter to the editor misidentified Dr. Paul Phinney as president of the American Medical Assn. Phinney is president of the California Medical Assn. —

The roughly three years of training that mid-level medical professionals have cannot compare to the at least eight years of postgraduate education that physicians undergo. This additional training provides physicians with the skills to fully diagnose, manage and respond to medical complications.

John M. Zerwas, MD

Richmond, Texas

The writer is president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.


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