Medical board cool to testing

CARSON CITY - A proposal that would require physicians to take competency tests every 10 years is getting a cool reception from the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Larry Lessly, the board's executive director, said the proposal ''to weed out the totally bad doctors'' would put Nevada on the ''cutting edge'' of medical regulation.

No other state requires competency testing.

''We never hear of the vast, vast majority of physicians after they get licensed,'' Lessly said. ''The people we deal with are those with complaints, which are a minority of the doctors, as it should be. But we don't know if they are competent into 10 years of their license.''

He proposed the state board, which regulates doctors, present the proposal to the 2001 Legislature.

Board members who objected to the competency tests included Dr. Robin Titus of Yerington, who said many doctors use procedures that may be 20 years old, but they still practice ''good medicine.''

Lessly said a licensed physician in another state who wants to practice in Nevada must have passed a major examination in the past 10 years before being allowed to work in this state. His suggestion would require it of all doctors.

Board members will hold a special meeting later this summer to decide whether to include it in their package to the Legislature.

Board members were also reluctant to endorse a proposal from advanced nurse practitioners that they be allowed to prescribe drugs for patients of doctors they work with.

Janet Haw and Donna Dominquez, both advanced nurse practitioners, told the board it would be a tremendous benefit to the patient and the physician. They argued they should have the same rights as a physician's assistant. By 2005 they will be required to have master's degrees.

But Dr. Joel Lubritz of Las Vegas said he viewed the proposal as an ''encroachment'' and said it would give ''the ability to someone other than physicians to practice medicine.''

One proposal that received a favorable reception came from Dr. Joel Bower, medical director of St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson. He wants a special category for doctors who retire but who want to continue treating patients for free in medically underserved areas.


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