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New TX law may expand nurse privileges

Nurses are required to provide care as directed by federal, state, and local rules and regulations. One law that helps define the scope of nursing privileges is the Nursing Practice Act (NPA). In general, a nurse in Texas is allowed to provide care that requires specialized skills, but the rules generally exclude any diagnostic or corrective measures. Examples of care nurses can currently provide include:

  • Gather data. Nurses observe and assess patients and gather data to help during diagnostics.
  • Administer medications. Nurses can also provide medication and treatments as prescribed by a physician.
  • Administer care. In certain situations, a nurse may provide medical care as directed by a physician.
  • Mentor. Nurses can also help train and teach other nurses.

A recent proposal may expand these options.

What is the proposal?

In certain specified situations, the Healthcare Expanded and Accessed Locally (HEAL) for Texans Act would remove the need for a nurse to receive supervision from a primary physician. As currently written, the proposal allows advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to provide their patients with an evaluation, diagnoses, and treatment plans, including necessary medications.

How is this different from current law?

Current law requires APRNs to check in with a physician monthly. Proponents argue that the passage of this proposal would eliminate an administrative burden that is keeping healthcare professionals from covering an underserved area of the country.

Will the proposal become law?

It is currently moving through the system, though not yet law. It is one of many proposals moving forward this session that could greatly impact the nursing profession in the state. We will provide updates on this and other proposals as they become available.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication