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Governor Patrick Signs Legislation to Enhance the Practice of Nurse-Midwives in Massachusetts

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Governor Deval Patrick today signed House Bill 3815, "An Act Relative to Enhancing the Practice of Nurse-Midwives." The legislation authorizes nurse-midwives to issue written prescriptions and order and interpret tests and therapeutics, expanding access to nurse-midwifery care for more women in the Commonwealth.

"I am proud to sign this bill that recognizes the growing trend of nurse-midwifery in Massachusetts by giving women more flexibility in choosing their health care, while maintaining the safest practices," said Governor Patrick.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) will be charged with registering nurse-midwives to issue prescriptions. DPH will work jointly with the Board of Registration in Nursing and the Board of Registration in Medicine to authorize controlled substances for which nurse-midwives may be certified.

The legislation will eliminate the requirement of nurse-midwives to practice as part of a team that includes a licensing physician with admitting privileges. Instead, nurse-midwives will be required to practice within a health care system and have clinical relationships with obstetrician-gynecologists that will provide consultation and referral.

"The safe and cost-effective care nurse-midwives provide is well-known in our largest cities, but is not available to all women in Massachusetts," said Kathryn Kravetz Carr, a certified nurse-midwife and member of the American College of Nurse-Midwifes. "This law removes an important barrier to all women having access to nurse-midwifery care. The Massachusetts Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives applauds Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts legislature for their support of better health care for Massachusetts women and their babies."

Finally, the legislation authorizes nurse-midwives to order and interpret tests and therapeutics in accordance with applicable regulations and requires that nurse-midwifery care be consistent with the standards of care established by the American College of Nurse-Midwifes.

"I would like to thank the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor Patrick for advancing this ground-breaking legislation which has been signed into law today and for acknowledging the importance of this issue," said Representative Kay Khan. "This new law will result in cost effective, high quality care to Massachusetts women and their families."

"With this law, we can improve the safety of women and children while keeping health costs within reason," said Senator Richard T. Moore. "It offers a safe, healthy option for more new mothers to consider."

"For many years, expectant mothers in Massachusetts have received outstanding care from dedicated nurse-midwives," said Representative Jeffrey Sánchez. "This new law is a crucial step forward in increasing access to care for women across the Commonwealth, particularly the underserved and vulnerable patients who often choose to seek care from nurse-midwives."

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