Around 30% of doctors in California are near
retirement, creating a shortage of doctors, and the state lawmakers want to
fill the gap with alternatives. They are said to be working on proposals by which
physician assistants could treat patients and nursing practioners to set up
independent practices. They felt Pharmacists and optometrists could
take up the job of primary care providers by diagnosing chronic ailments like
diabetes and high blood pressure.
The person leading this effort is State Sen. Ed
Hernandez who is an optometrist and Chairman of The Senate Health Committee. According to the Association of American Medical
Colleges, 16 of California's 58 counties have the required number of primary care
physicians; Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley face the worst shortage. Added
to which 30% of the states doctors are nearing retirement.
Doctors are totally against this effort as they feel non
physicians should not be allowed to exceed their training limitations, as also
with nursing practitioners , it could endanger patient safety. The costs would
rise as people with less medical training and experience tended to order more
tests and prescribe more antibiotics.
Although the Brown Administration was undecided,
secretary of the State Health and Human Services Agency, Diana Dooley said that
expanding some professional roles was an option that policy makers were
have got to change the overall delivery system. We can't succeed doing business
as usual," she said. "I don't think there's any stone that can be
left unturned. We have to look at every possible way to make the delivery of
care better for patients and less expensive."
Hannah Punitha (IRDA
Licence Number: 2710062)
Michael J. Mishak, Feb 11th