From the Louisiana ACEP President – August 2021

Mike Smith, MD, MBA, FACEP

What’s up, everyone? Anything been going on lately? As we’ve all dealt with the 4th COVID-19 surge in the state of Louisiana, our emergency departments and hospitals have swelled with patients. It’s been a challenge but one we have met before and will continue to do. Please make sure you are maintaining the time to care of yourself and your families. Keep encouraging vaccination – it’s our only way to get out of this without the loss of life from the disease “burning through,” the population. While encouraging vaccination, please try to not let the contrarians get to you (see the first point about maintaining your mental health). Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, and endless concerts and shows need to come back eventually, right? Right?

We are reassured that the scope of practice bills did not progress further in Louisiana. The nurse practitioner independent practice did not garner enough votes to pass. This was the result of grassroots effort by other physician specialties, the Louisiana State Medical Society, the LA ACEP board, and other individual emergency physicians. These bills are presented as “increasing access to care,” which the practice patterns do not reflect. They are almost identical to physicians in choosing non-primary care and urban over rural settings. While it is frustrating to have a fraction of your training compared with your years of hard work, understand that these arguments are not likely to gain traction with the public when fighting this scope creep. We need to focus on patient safety, patients being informed, and patient choice. Patients need to know what type of professional is taking care of them and the training that goes into that profession. Louisiana ACEP has submitted several council resolutions regarding this, and physicians of the state need to be proactive when they try to challenge this next legislative session.

ACEP21 and the council meeting continue to be a reason to remain hopeful. And not just to get out of the house and travel to Boston, but to meet with emergency physician members from across the country and go through the deliberations of the council meeting. Louisiana councilors are voted in at our annual spring meeting. It is relatively easy for most chapters to add in “alternate councilors,” if you are interested in seeing the process, please contact us. If you are a resident or an old timer wanting to be involved, we will get you involved.

Thank you for all that you do for the patients seeking emergency care in Louisiana. You’ve made sure that despite global pandemics and natural disasters, that people are cared for no matter who they are, the time of day, or the potential obstacles in your way. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for this … at least until the locusts or the robots come.