Maximizing the authority of nurse practitioners is associated with reduced hospitalization of skilled nursing facility residents, according to findings recently published in Nursing Outlook.

States that allow nurse practitioners to practice to the fullest extent of their training without a supervising physician also have lower hospitalization rates for other groups, including inpatient rehabilitation patients, the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing investigators determined.

The Sinclair investigators examined American Association of Nurse Practitioner data on state nurse practitioners scope of practice laws, according to which 17 states allowed full scope of practice as of January 2013. The nursing home hospitalization rate data came from a 2013 government report.

Their findings contradict physician groups that say care quality is likely to decline when a nurse practitioner, rather than a doctor, takes a lead role.

Their results should encourage full scope of practice laws, the researchers concluded. They recommended that nurse practitioners ally with nursing home associations and other groups to advocate for these policies.