Nurse Practitioners and the Authority to Sign Death Certificates

The rapid proliferation of advance practice nurses within the healthcare industry has resulted in a number of notable occurrences. One of the more controversial topics surrounding the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses concerns the authority to sign death certificates. However, a new bill could potentially grant advanced practice nurses the authority to sign death certificates, a responsibility that is traditionally solely covered in a physician’s scope of practice.

Still, the proposed bill has resulted in a great deal of blowback from professional physicians. Doctors are adamant about the fact that the proposed move would deal a monumental blow to the overall quality of healthcare practices. In the face of this opposition, advanced practice nurses assert that the depth and breadth of their training and knowledge easily justifies this radical proposal.

The clash is just another symptom of the growing disparity of opinion when it comes to the shared responsibilities of advanced practice nurses and physicians. Some physicians feel that the sudden move to give advanced practice nurses more authoritative power could dilute the value placed on MDs. The proposal to allow advanced practice nurses to sign death certificates if a physician is absent has received support from observers that say the impetus for the proposal stemmed from the protracted wait time for death certificates in certain cases.

As accessibility and practicality have converged to increase the presence and scope of practice that advanced practice nurses currently enjoy, nurse practitioners have become the go–to solution for families who are looking for personalized care services for their ailing loved ones. This phenomenon is a point that advanced practice nurses use to justify the decision to grant them the ability to sign death certificates.