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Arkansas Legislature Passes Bills Concerning Medical Practices And Pharmacists' Abilities

Arkansas Senate

The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday passed a series of bills involving medical practices in Arkansas. By a vote of 18-12, the Senate passed House Bill 1198, which removes the supervision requirement for certified registered nurse anesthetists, or CRNA’s, and instead replaced the term with “in consultation with.”

Speaking on behalf of his bill, Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, said one of the goals is to aid rural facilities in the state that may not be able to attract or retain surgeons who would be willing to supervise certified registered nurse anesthetists. 

"What’s happening in our rural areas, in our rural hospitals, is that we’re having surgical groups not wanting to come to our small rural hospitals because they don’t want to be responsible for the actions of…CRNA’s" Wallace said.

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, spoke against the legislation, saying it would invalidate the work of doctors and anesthesiologists who put in the time to attend medical school and complete their residency. 

The Senate also passed by a vote of 27-4, House Bill 1258, which authorizes the full independent practice authority for certified nurse practitioners who meet certain criteria. Under the bill, a practitioner must have completed at minimum 6,240 hours of practice under a "collaborative practice agreement with a physician."

The bill also would create the Full Independent Practice Credentialing Committee, which would be responsible for granting full independent practice authority to certified nurse practitioners. No senator spoke against the bill.

The Senate also passed on Wednesday two bills that expand the abilities of pharmacists in the state. 

House bills 1134 and 1135, labeled as companion bills by their House sponsor Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, expand the ability of pharmacists to administer vaccines to patients. 

The Senate voted 29-2 to passed House Bill 1134, which allows pharmacists in the state to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute and dispense vaccines to patients aged three and older. It also allows pharmacists to treat any adverse reactions to the vaccines. 

Under the bill, pharmacists who administer vaccines and immunizations other than the flu or COVID-19 vaccine, to children aged three to six must participate in the federal Vaccines for Children Program.

By a vote of 23-6, the Senate also passed House Bill 1135, which allows pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines and immunizations to anyone aged three or older if delegated to do so by a supervising pharmacist. 

All four bills now go to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, where if signed, they will become law.

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