'Why are nurses doing doctors' work?'

IMA says Health Ministry has no authority to define what medical functions, such as advising diabetes patients, nurses can perform.

nurse hospital art 88 (photo credit: )
nurse hospital art 88
(photo credit: )
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday raised serious questions about the way the Health Ministry unilaterally decided to allow nurses who have undergone special training to perform certain medical procedures and give medical advice usually meted out by doctors. The Israel Medical Association, represented by lawyer Dafna Holtz Lachner, argued that Health Ministry director-general Prof. Avi Yisraeli has no authority to define specific medical functions - such as advising diabetes patients and others on changes in medication dosage - as activities that nurses can perform. The High Court instructed the ministry to negotiate with the IMA over the transfer of some medical functions to nurses. If the two sides to not reached agreement within two months, the court will resume its hearing of the IMA's case. IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar voiced his satisfaction over the ruling, saying it "protects public health." He said he was not opposed to expanding nurses' responsibilities, but that "one must differentiate between activities connected to nursing and those requiring a doctor's judgement." The idea of allowing specially trained nurses to serve as nurse practitioners in certain fields is widely applied in the US, where some even administer anesthesia and others advise diabetics how to adjust their medications. The allocation of certain medical responsibilities to nurses has been warmly endorsed by some leading physicians, including Prof. Itamar Raz, head of Hadassah University Medical Center's diabetes unit.