New California law releases nurse practitioners from physician oversight

October 7, 2020

The state will be the 29th to allow nurse practitioners to practice without a physician.

California nurse practitioners (NPs) will be able to strike out on their own without physician supervision soon after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law opposed by various physician groups.

According to a report in The Sacramento Bee, the law, which goes into effect in 2021, will allow NPs to practice independently beginning in 2023 after having operated un a physician’s supervision for three years. Under current regulations NPs must always operate under a physician’s supervision.

This brings the total number of states which allow NPs to practice without doctor supervision to 29, The Bee reports.

The California Medical Association (CMA) opposed the law, titled AB 890, and after Newsom signed it President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., MD, released a statement expressing disappointment in its passage.

“We strongly believe that physician-based care is the model that ensures the greatest patient safety and highest quality care for all Californians, regardless of income,” he says in the statement. “And while proponents of AB 890 have said this legislation will help increase access to care, the data we have seen from other states that have eased supervision of nurse practitioners has not shown any meaningful improvement in access to care in underserved communities.”

Bretan says that the legislation has many steps to go before it is implemented and that the CMA intends to remain engaged in the regulatory process.

“While the Bureau of Registered Nursing will play an important role, the implementation of key provisions of the bill will require physician involvement and will likely require input and guidance from the Medical Board of California,” he says. “CMA will be engaged throughout the regulatory process to ensure that patients’ interests, including the timely access to a physician, are protected in the implementation of AB 890."