In 2012, the Department of Public Health produced guidelines for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) working in public health for implementing prescriptive authority. The guidelines, which are included in this toolkit, are based on the current statutes related to prescriptive authority for APRNs as well as the rules and regulations of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Georgia Pharmacy Board.
This toolkit is to be used by APRNs in Public Health as well as the supervisors and/or District Nursing Directors to become familiar with all of the requirements for obtaining approval to exercise prescriptive authority in Georgia and the various steps and processes. The toolkit provides a preparation checklist, a template for APRNs in Public Health to use for the protocol agreement and other relevant information.
This checklist serves as a tool in preparing for an APRN in public health to exercise prescriptive authority and to assure that all requirements, rules and statutes are met prior to the APRN exercising prescriptive authority. This checklist should be used in conjunction with the Department of Public Health document, Nurse Protocol Agreements and Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Guidelines, July 2012, and the APRN Prescriptive Authority Reference Manual.
Benefits of Prescriptive Authority for APRNs in Public Health
1. Improve Access to Care
This will help public health improve access to care and medications, especially for the many Georgian’s living in medically underserved rural and urban areas. For the many Georgians who are treated by APRN’s at public health clinics throughout Georgia, the APRN’s ability to execute written and electronic orders would help alleviate barriers to needed medications. Georgians’ access to their needed medications is currently dependent on physician availability, which often leads to prolonged waiting periods, especially in rural counties where physician availability is often limited.
2. Strengthen Public Health Response to Disaster
This will allow Public Health to respond more effectively during disasters and emergencies. Prescriptive authority for APRNs means that in a disaster, more providers are available to both assess patients and order needed medications for those exposed to biological threats, including anthrax and pandemic flu, as well as those displaced due to natural disasters.
3. Improve Efficiency of Service
This will allow Public Health to provide more efficient care to its patients. For example, when a women’s health services patient requests an oral contraceptive that is not part of the health department drug formulary, the APRN currently calls the order to a specific pharmacy or makes several phone calls to locate the best price for the patient and to assure that the medication is in stock. This will allow the APRN to give a written prescription for the oral contraceptive to the patient, who could then take it to an alternative pharmacy or shop for the best price. Greater efficiency in the ordering process will enable the APRN to provide care for more Georgians.
4. Promote Consistency with Other States
This will allow people in Georgia to enjoy the same benefits as the rest of the country. The proven safe and cost- effective care provided by APRNs can be made wholly available in Georgia, which currently ranks 37th in health status (United Health Foundation, 2011).