Characteristics of patient visits to nurse practitioners in hospital outpatient departments

Susan X Lin, Kristine Gebbie, Robert Fullilove, Raymond Arons
Journal of Professional Nursing: Official Journal of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2003, 19 (4): 211-5
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are the largest and the fastest growing groups among nonphysician practitioners in the United States. However, there has been lack of studies on the supply, demand, and use of nurse practitioners in hospital outpatient departments (OPDs) across the nation. Using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (1997-2000), this study describes patient visits to NPs in general medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology clinics in hospitals across the nation. The percentage of patient visits involving NPs increased from 5.9 percent in 1997 to 7.3 percent in 2000. NPs have greater roles in hospital OPDs in nonmetropolitan areas than in metropolitan areas. Regional difference in patient visits to NPs supports the relationship between the practice environment and the use of NPs. As expected, NPs continue to serve the health care needs of women and children in hospital OPDs. Of all OPD visits with a NP service, NPs saw patients with no presence of a physician in 82 percent of these visits. As the role of the NP evolves in the U.S. health care delivery system, further studies on the clinical practice of NPs in hospital OPDs can help evaluate the impact of NPs in providing quality of patient care at minimum cost.

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