Friday, December 7, 2012

Partnership proves successful for MGH clinicians



For years they have been on the same page – working to advance the clinical role of certified nurse-midwives in the state and improve access to care for reproductive-aged women. Earlier this year, they stood on the same stage as MGH midwife Angela Ferrari, CNM, MS, presented the inaugural American College of Nurse-Midwives Midwifery Partnership Award to Erin Tracy, MD, MPH, of the MGH Vincent Obstetrics & Gynecology Department.

The award was given to Tracy in appreciation for her commitment to the passage of House Bill 3815, “An Act Relative to Enhancing the Practice of Nurse-Midwives,” which expanded access to nurse-midwifery care in Massachusetts. Ferrari and Tracy were among the many active supporters of the legislation, approved last January, which now allows nurse-midwives to write prescriptions, and directly order and receive their patients’ lab tests, ultrasounds and therapeutics. “I feel so proud that the MGH played such a prominent role over the course of these past 12 years in getting this legislation passed,” Ferrari says. “This has truly affected the future of health care, and I think one of the reasons it passed was the pivotal role the MGH played in supporting it. We have an environment here where influential and forward-thinking physicians, like Dr. Tracy, and our nurse-midwives practice together to provide exceptional care.”

“The practice of midwifery antedates obstetrical services by centuries, and our midwifery service provides exceptional care to women,” says Tracy, who also is chair of the Massachusetts section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Obstetricians and certified nurse-midwives routinely collaborate in our institution, but some of the previous regulations required a level of micromanagement that could potentially impede patient care.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, Ferrari says, there were many barriers to providing cost-effective, safe and timely care – including the major obstacle requiring physicians to review the prescriptions nurse-midwives wrote for their patients. “This in turn meant that labs and other diagnostic testing had to be ordered under a physician’s name,” Ferrari says. “The problem was that there were times when the physicians had never met or seen the patients, and yet they would receive the results – not the midwife who was caring for them. So this barrier to safety has now been removed.”

Although still in its early stages of implementation, the legislation also is expected to grant better access to obstetrical care for women in remote parts of the state where there has previously been very limited access to providers. 

Read more articles from the 12/07/12 Hotline issue.

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