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.
AdvertisementDoctors 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 exploring.
"We 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 2013.