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VA: Nurses Are Qualified to Run Our Labs

by Dennis Ernst • September 27, 2016

NursesThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is considering a rule change that expands the scope of practice for Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) by qualifying them to perform lab tests and supervise and direct laboratory testing in VA healthcare facilities. The announcement sent shock waves throughout the laboratory industry.  

According to the proposed rule change:

"... a CNP [certified nurse practitioner] would have full practice authority to provide the following services: Comprehensive histories, physical examinations and other health assessment and screening activities; diagnose, treat, and manage patients with acute and chronic illnesses and diseases; order, perform, supervise, and interpret laboratory and imaging studies; prescribe medication and durable medical equipment and; make appropriate referrals for patients and families; and aid in health promotion, disease prevention, health education, and counseling as well as the diagnosis and management of acute and chronic diseases."

The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) and other laboratory groups mobilized their members to issue their objections to the change. The Center for Phlebotomy Education joined the chorus and registered its concerns with the agency. 

"Nurses are the backbone of healthcare," says the Center's Director Dennis J. Ernst. "But laboratory testing is enormously complex and heavily regulated. The nursing profession is not prepared academically or experientially to safely oversee the complexities of clinical laboratory testing. Just like phlebotomy, running a lab properly is not as simple as it seems." 

The rule change also permits APRNs to perform, supervise and interpret diagnostic images. Diagnostic imaging groups are just as adamantly opposed 

Read the proposed rule change.

Sign the ASCLS/BOC petition urging CMS to reconsider the ruling.

More information.


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