Bill Poised to Give More Freedom to Certain Nurses

Apr 30, 2014

Legislation introduced by the governor will allow certain APRNs to practice independently.
Credit Slawomir Fajer/iStock / Thinkstock

A bill that would allow advanced practice registered nurses more flexibility appears poised to become a law.

The nurses, also known as APRNs, have been licensed to treat patients and prescribe medications independently since 1999, but there's been a catch. They can only do that after entering into a signed collaboration agreement with a medical doctor.

Laima Karosas, a professor at Quinnipiac, has been an APRN in Connecticut for 22 years. She said there are complex cases where she needs to work with a physician, but she rarely collaborates with the person whose signature is on her agreement. "Most of the time, there is no physician where I practice," she said. " It hasn't meant a lot for us, except that when you lose your collaborating physician -- when you lose the person who signed the agreement -- you're stuck. Technically, your practice is now illegal."

Under the new proposal, certain APRNs could now practice without a doctor's written agreement.

Karosas said the change will increase access to health care. She said, "This allows APRNs in the state, after they've collaborated for three years, or 2,000 hours, whichever is longer, to be able to open up a practice in an area where there's a need. And we have areas in the state that have tremendous needs in both primary care and mental health."

The Connecticut State Medical Society has criticized the bill, saying it provides little oversight to APRNs, and that it will fragment care teams.

Still, the measure passed out of both the House and the Senate. Governor Dannel Malloy said he'll sign it when it reaches his desk.