Sudbury

Nurse practitioner orders not recognized

Insurance companies are asking doctors to sign off on some prescriptions written by nurse practitioners, even though the province has expanded the services they are allowed to prescribe.

Insurance companies are still asking doctors to sign off on prescriptions written by nurse practitioners

Without a doctor’s sign-off, patients are still having trouble getting insurance coverage for medical services that nurse practitioners prescribe. (Getty Images)

Nurse practitioners say they still need doctors' signatures to get insurance companies to cover some services, even though nurse practitioners can legally order them. They are calling this a burden on patients and a waste of resources.

"The problem is the insurance companies still haven't recognized that nurse practitioners are part of the primary health care team," said Jennie Humbert, a nurse practitioner at the West Nipissing Community Health Centre in Sturgeon Falls.

[Patients] end up having to come back to me and I have to get a physician to sign...and the physician doesn't even know this patient."

Ask insurers to include nurse practitioners

Without a doctor’s sign-off, patients are still having trouble getting insurance coverage for medical services Humbert has ordered, such as orthotics, physiotherapy, psychologists and chiropractic care.

Humbert suggested that when employers renew their contracts with insurance companies, they should make sure the agreements stipulate that nurse practitioners can fill out claim forms.

Insurance companies contacted by the CBC — including Manulife and Sun Life — did not make anyone available for interviews.

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