Some Illinois nurses can now diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medication

The next time you need to see a doctor, you might be able to get treatment from a nurse instead. That’s because some nurses just got expanded capabilities in Illinois.

But not all doctors are on board.

“Today is a good day for the health of the people of Illinois, the quality of life of the people of Illinois,” Governor Bruce Rauner said.

By signing the 'Nurse Practice Act' into law, Governor Rauner opened the way for about 13-thousand Illinois nurses to diagnose, treat and even prescribe some medications without a doctor watching over them.

“This bill or law now, will allow us to decrease overall cost, maintain overall quality and increase access to care,” said Ricky Loar, President of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing.

Nurse practioner Ricky Loar says the main goal is to get care to people who in live miles and miles from a doctor.

But some physicians, like Dr. April Kennedy, worry patient care could suffer.

“When you try to substitute training, when you try to have someone perform a function that they really aren't trained to do to me it just opens up for errors, and medical errors can be critical, they can be life threatening,” Dr. Kennedy said.

The bill's backers say this only applies to advanced practice registered nurses, such as nurse practioners.
On top of their extra education, they have to work with a physician or hospital for 4000 hours, plus get another 250 hours of continuing education or training.

“With advanced practice nurses in general, the quality of care and the control of for instance, chronic disease, is as good or better than it is with a physician and that's documented in multiple studies,” Loar said.