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Advanced Practice Nurses and Narcotics in Florida

The Board of Nursing in the State of Florida current prohibits advanced practice nurses from prescribing narcotic medications. This prohibition is unnecessary, wasteful and can even be potentially dangerous. Advanced practice nurses have extensive training and on the job experience that more than qualifies them to decide whether a patient should be given narcotics. Using the stage-sequential model of policy making, this paper will argue that this ban should be lifted for the public good.

By allowing advanced practice nurses to prescribe medications in Florida, the entire healthcare enterprise could be improved. Patients would receive their necessary medication in a more timely manner, a clear improvement in patient care especially when considering pain management. With nurses able to prescribe these medications, doctors would have to spend less time on the minor tasks of checking for drug interaction and weeding out individuals attempting to scam the hospital or practice for prescription narcotics. This would free up the doctors to perform the complex diagnostic and medical tasks for which they have been trained and the nurses have not.

The core issue in this situation is that advanced practice nurses are not given authority commiserate with their training and knowledge. Utilizing these individuals to prescribe narcotic medication is clearly in the best interests of the patient and the healthcare enterprise, yet the State of Florida has concerns. By limiting the power to prescribe narcotics to only medical doctors, they lower the chances of a mistake being made regarding drug interactions, as a more trained individual is involved. Additionally, due to the prevalence of patients faking pain and other symptoms in order to receive narcotics, limiting the number of individuals that can prescribe them results in a lower number of scams and easier training to identify scammers.