Physicians battle bill that would allow APRNs to order CT scans, MRIs and other advanced imaging

The American Medical Association and its local affiliate are blasting a Georgia Senate bill that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to order CT scans, MRIs and other diagnostic imaging.

Physicians are asking Gov. Brian Kemp to veto SB 321 after its passage in late June. They’re concerned the measure would increase healthcare costs while also threatening the “health and safety of patients in Georgia.” In making their case, they highlighted a study in JACR, which found nurse practitioners order more imaging studies than their doc counterparts.

“…The AMA has long supported physician-led health care teams, with each member drawing on his or her specific strengths, working together, and sharing decisions and information for the benefit of the patient,” American Medical Association CEO James Madara, MD, wrote in a July 15 letter to Kemp. “All healthcare professionals play a critical role in providing care to patients; however, their skillsets are not interchangeable with that of fully trained physicians.”

Madara further noted that NPs are “valuable members of the healthcare team.” But with only two or three years of education, no residency requirement and far fewer hours of clinical training than docs, “they are not trained to practice independently.” He and colleagues questioned whether the bill would expand access to care in Georgia, given that NPs practice in the same large, urban areas as primary care docs.

“For all the reasons above, we strongly encourage you to veto SB 321,” the letter concluded. The AMA also highlighted the issue in a Wednesday update to its members.