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What We’re Reading: Alabama IVF Ruling Impacts; Administrative Task Fees; Nursing Shortage Response

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Patients with cancer express shock and anxiety over the recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court regarding frozen embryos; doctors are beginning to charge fees for administrative tasks; some universities are implementing accelerated nursing programs to help with the shortage.

Patients With Cancer Express Worry About Alabama IVF Ruling

Because those with cancer often turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to preserve their reproductive options, both patients and oncologists are expressing shock and anxiety over the recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, according to the Washington Post. The court ruled that embryos created by IVF are considered children, which sparked concerns that embryos being destroyed or damaged could lead to civil liability. Patients with cancer are worried that more states could adopt similar rulings, as assisted reproductive technology may be their only way of having a family after treatments, which can cause infertility and premature menopause. Additionally, in response to the ruling, doctors warned that all women using IVF and their babies could face major health risks if fertility clinics stop using frozen embryos. They emphasized that using frozen embryos promotes healthier pregnancies and reduces complications. Freezing embryos also enables the transfer of 1 embryo at a time, lowering the risk of multiple pregnancies with associated serious health risks. Lastly, without frozen embryos, screening for genetic conditions becomes challenging, impacting the ability to diagnose and prevent certain diseases.

More Doctors Are Charging for Administrative Tasks

Things like sick notes may cost patients as doctors begin to charge fees for administrative tasks, according to Axios. Although fees ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars for paperwork requests may annoy patients, experts say it is a natural response to growing demands on physicians’ time and shrinking reimbursement. More specifically, responding to several patient emails and fielding requests for documents can add hours to a doctor’s workday that would otherwise go unpaid. The pandemic is partly to blame as doctors are more burned out than ever and patients have become more comfortable interacting with their physicians online. The hope is that fees for emails and other medical documentation can help weed out nonurgent requests so doctors can prioritize those with more pressing matters. Conversely, an expert interviewed by Axios noted that providers may back off the fees if their economic picture improves or artificial intelligence alleviates some of the administrative burden.

Universities Create Accelerated 12-Month Nursing Programs to Combat Shortage

Some universities are implementing accelerated nursing programs to help with the shortage, cutting down training time from up to 4 years down to 1, according to Fox News. Prospective program students must have a previous bachelor’s degree and complete 8 prerequisite courses. This is dramatically shorter than the typical 2- to 4-year nursing program, as the program’s goal is to help students get into the workforce sooner. Despite it being an accelerated program, the students do the same number of clinical hours, so their schedules may have to be a little more flexible to consider working on the weekends. Also, just like a traditional 4-year student, accelerated program students must pass a national exam to officially become a nurse once they complete the program. The National Center of Health Workforce Analysis reported that there is a projected shortage of over 78,000 registered nurses next year, with the states most in need being California, Georgia, Washington, Michigan, and Oregon.

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