Nurse practitioners now able to prescribe on P.E.I.
Some doctors concerned about liability
Legislation allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe most drugs except narcotics and controlled substances came into effect on P.E.I. Wednesday, but there are still some systems that need to be put in place.
The province has launched a pilot project on P.E.I. to have a nurse practitioner help alleviate patient backlogs, but it is taking longer than expected to get off the ground. About 100 Islanders have been assigned to a Charlottetown nurse practitioner, and removed from the registry of people looking for a family doctor.
While NPs can now prescribe, there are still barriers in place. There is, for example, no official process in place if an NP needs to admit a patient to hospital.
Some doctors are also concerned about liability.
"There's certainly confusion over liability," said Marilyn Barrett, director of primary care networks for Health PEI.
"Some physicians perhaps, you know, worry about, 'What is my liability around the nurse practitioners practice?' We now have identified a lot of the issues that we're facing, so I think we just want to take it slow and make sure we do the right thing."
Nurse practitioners have their own liability insurance.
A working group is looking at ways for nurse practitioners to take on a more active role. A second nurse practitioner has been offered a job at Charlottetown's Polyclinic. The province hopes to hire two more in Kings County and West Prince.