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New Illinois legislation streamlines nursing, expands some practices for better patient care          Send a link to a friend

[October 11, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed a law Oct. 5 that updates and extends the Nurse Practice Act until 2018. Recognizing the increasingly large role played by nurses in providing quality health care, the new law clarifies the responsibilities and requirements for advanced practice nurses, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. The current Nurse Practice Act sunsets Jan. 1, 2008.

Senate Bill 360 was sponsored by state Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, R-River Grove.

"Nurses are the backbone of the health care system. This law moves us toward a better appreciation of the work Illinois nurses do to protect and care for the people of our state," said Blagojevich. "Working with health care professionals across the state, we have modernized and streamlined this law, giving men and women who are considering careers in nursing a better understanding of what is expected of them and what they can expect of their careers."

The historic rewrite of the Nurse Practice Act streamlines the law into three distinct sections targeted to the three categories of licensed nurses. Each section outlines licensure requirements, education requirements and a specific scope of practice for each category. Further, the law includes a whistle-blower clause that prohibits retaliation against a licensed nurse who reports unsafe, unethical or illegal health care practices or conditions.

"Nurses are a distinct and independent part of the health care network. The changes in this act reflect the critical nature of nurses' work and clarify the expanding opportunities and responsibilities of licensed nurses," said Ronen, Senate sponsor of the legislation.

"Nurses work tirelessly to ensure the comfort and well-being of the people they care for," said Saviano, House sponsor of the legislation. "By clarifying their responsibilities, we are making it easier for them to continue doing their jobs and treating their patients."

The act changes the statutory relationship between physicians and nurses, recognizing the ongoing changes in the treatment of patients and where patients are treated. The act expands the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses working at hospitals and ambulatory surgical treatment centers, allowing them to practice through the use of privileging and credentialing without the need for a written collaborative agreement with a licensed physician. The law also expands the types and dosages of drugs that an advanced practice nurse may prescribe, so long as there is a collaborative agreement or the treatment is at a hospital or ambulatory surgical treatment center. Finally, the act creates a new procedure for future expansions and changes to the credentialing of advanced practice nurses and requires the collaboration of the Medical Licensing Board for further practice expansions.

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"APNs have advanced in the past 10 years, and this act reflects the changes in our profession," said Bridget A. Cahill, Ph.D. candidate, ANP, CNP. "The two major changes in the Nurse Practice Act are the elimination of the collaborative agreement for APNs in a hospital or ambulatory care center and the ability to prescribe some additional medications. We took a step in the right direction and hope this leads to bigger and better steps in the future." Cahill is government relations chairwoman for the Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nursing and a member of the advisory board for the Illinois Center for Nursing.

"We would like to thank Governor Blagojevich for his action today," said Pam Robbins, RN, second vice president of the Illinois Nurses Association. "The signing of this act represents two years of work by the nursing community. The central goal was to provide for patient protection through nursing regulation. We are proud this goal was accomplished, and the scope of nursing practice was improved at all levels."

Work on this act was initiated in 2006 and focused on streamlining the act and making clear what is expected of all health care providers. The work was accomplished by combining the efforts of the Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Hospital Association, Illinois Nurses Association, Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nursing, Illinois Association of Nurse Anesthetists and a committee of 155 nurses representing LPNs, RNs and APNs. The stakeholders' first priority was patient safety and protecting the public. The protection of nursing practice and organizational priorities were also considered.

Senate Bill 360 becomes effective immediately.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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