Delaware Law Grants Nurse Practitioners Full Practice Authority

By Carol Davis

Delaware became the latest state to adopt full practice authority (FPA) to nurse practitioners (NPs), enabling its citizens unimpeded access to healthcare by the clinician of their choice, with Wednesday’s legislation.

Delaware joins 23 other states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories in adopting full practice authority legislation, which streamlines healthcare delivery by granting patients full and direct access to the comprehensive services NPs are educated and clinically prepared to provide.

The new legislation bolsters efforts to reduce healthcare disparities and increase health equity throughout the state.

“As our state contends with a heightened need for healthcare, this law represents a necessary and positive step toward removing roadblocks that impede equitable access to high-quality healthcare,” Sharon Baptiste-Brown, MSN, APRN-BC, GNP, Delaware state representative for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), said in a press release.

“We commend the state legislature and Governor [John] Carney for prioritizing the health of patients and recognizing the vital contributions NPs make to improving health and eliminating disparities in healthcare delivery,” Baptise-Brown said. “This law will increase Delaware’s ability to meet the current needs of patients and it will increase future capacity by attracting NPs to the state.”

“Delaware is the second state this year to enact FPA legislation and enlist NPs as key partners in addressing unprecedented health needs and persistent disparities in healthcare access and outcomes,” said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAANpresident of AANP.

“States with FPA demonstrate a proven track record for increasing accessibility and patient satisfaction, while maintaining excellent care quality and outcomes,” Kapu said. “We are encouraged to see other states looking to modernize their laws, eliminate healthcare disparities, and increase healthcare access and choice for patients by fully engaging the NP workforce.”

Support for full practice authority is growing. The National Academy of Medicine recently released The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report recommending that nurses be allowed to “practice to the full extent of their education and training by removing barriers that prevent them from more fully addressing social needs and social determinants of health and improving health care access, quality, and value.”

The report also suggests that federal authority should be used to supersede restrictive scope of practice state laws, the report says.

The American Medical Association and other physician groups, however, argue collaborations are needed for patient safety.

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.