Physician Assistants, Advance Practice Nurses Increasingly Tend to Hospital Outpatient Visits

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Hospital outpatient department visits attended only by physician assistants or advance practice nurses have steadily increased from 2000–2001 through 2008–2009, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specifically, the percentage of hospital outpatient department visits seen only by physician assistants or advance practice nurses increased in 2000-2001 by 10 percent; 2002-2003 by 11 percent; 2004-2005 by 10 percent; 2006-2007 by 13 percent and 2008-2009 by 15 percent. Throughout these years, the percentage of outpatient department visits seen by a physician and physician assistant or advance practice nurse held at an average of 3 percent.

Other key findings from the CDC's report include the following:

•    During the same time period, the percentage of outpatient department visits attended only by physicians declined from 77 percent in 2000-2001 to 72 percent in 2008-2009.
•    The percentage of visits attended only by a physician assistant or advance practice nurse decreased as hospital size (number of beds) increased.
•    The percentage of visits seen only by a physician assistant or advance practice nurse was higher in non-teaching hospital outpatient departments (22 percent) than in teaching hospital outpatient departments (8 percent).
•    The percentage of visits seen solely by a physician assistant or advance practice nurse decreased as the hospital's location became increasingly more urban.
•    The percentage of visits seen only by a physician assistant or advance practice nurse was higher in general medicine (21 percent) and obstetrics and gynecology (19 percent) clinics than in pediatric (8 percent) and surgical (5 percent) clinics.

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