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Hearing on H1268
The Joint Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on H1268 An act to increase access to vaccines today, April 24, 2014.
If this bill is enacted into law, it would change MGL Chapter 94C section 9 to legalize healthcare organizations using unlicensed medical assistants to administer vaccines to patients. This process would give nursing functions to non-nurses, thereby stripping patients of one layer of safeguards and accountability.
Mass LPN founder Bob Smith testified before the committee in opposition to this bill. He repeated his concern that he had previously voiced to Senator Brownsberger that this bill offered no provision for oversight of the unlicensed medical assistants, and also that in his 18 years of experience he had only seen people denied access to vaccines due to manufacturer's shortages, never because of a shortage of nurses to administer them. Currently there are 143,000+ qualified nurses licensed in Massachusetts, and registered pharmacists are now also administering vaccines- adding a new group of under-qualified people to the equation seems an unnecessary risk.
Smith went on to say that the technique of administering an injection was something that could be taught to just about anyone in a matter of minutes but that would not qualify them to safely administer vaccines to patients. It is the knowledge base and legal accountability of licensed nurses that insures quality of care. He concluded by asking the committee to recognize the difference between affordable care and cheap care and to adversely report this bill, leaving vaccine administration in the hands of qualified licensed nurses.
Mass LPN is dedicated to empowering Massachusetts licensed practical nurses to make informed decisions regarding regulatory and legislative issues which affect our profession. We are also committed to insuring quality healthcare for all residents of the Commonwealth and strengthening our identity as licensed healthcare providers.
Traditionally, LPN's are thought of as direct bedside caregivers. In today's healthcare climate, LPN's continue to care for residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities, as well as care for patients in community settings such as private homes, primary care and specialty medical practices, outpatient clinics, community health centers, and adult day health facilities. LPN's are also employed by healthcare delivery systems and health insurance companies to participate in care management processes to insure continuity as patients navigate through the healthcare system.