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Governor Signs Bill Allowing Mid-Level Practitioners To OK Resuscitative Edicts

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a bill that will allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sign off on patients’ forms for resuscitative measures.

AB 637, by Assembly member Nora Campos (D-San Jose), will encourage greater use of the form known as the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or POLST form, Campos said. That form sets in place the patients’ choices about care when approaching the end of their life. The new law will enable a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, acting under the supervision of a physician, to authorize that form with their signature.

The new law will help patients and their families, Campos said.

“Increasing access to these vital forms will help seriously-ill patients and their loved ones by ensuring patients receive the care they want,” Campos said. She said the law is designed to encourage more discussion of end-of-life treatment options “and eliminate delays in validating the patient’s desires,” she said.

For mid-level practitioners — physician assistants and nurse practitioners — it slightly expands their scope of practice. It’s a small step but a meaningful one, Campos said.

“In the last moments, patients and families should not be burdened with the stress of care decisions but instead spend time together with their loved ones,” Campos said.

The law will go into effect at the start of 2016.

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