Nurse practitioners can help improve medical practice productivity by allowing doctors to see more patients and focus on those patients requiring complex care. Increasingly, the growing need for primary care services will be met with nurse practitioners.
The Doctors Company studied nurse practitioner medical malpractice claims over a six-year period and compared them to claims against primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) to identify risk management issues that may be unique to nurse practitioners.
The most common claim allegations are similar for nurse practitioners and primary care physicians, suggesting that the risk management strategies needed to address top risk areas are similar.
Many nurse practitioner malpractice claims can be traced to clinical and administrative factors, such as:
Many of these factors can be remedied if physicians are clear about the nurse practitioner laws and regulations within their state and support the nurse practitioner in providing care within the scope of practice.
There should be agreement on the level of supervision that will be exercised by the physician, including the number and frequency of charts to be reviewed and co-signed. Additionally, nurse practitioners and supervising physicians should agree on specific conditions that, when identified by a nurse practitioner, warrant assessment by the supervising physician.