Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the characteristics of vulnerability in patients at safety net practices where nurse practitioners (NPs) provide the majority of the health care and to discuss the implications regarding patient data collection for all NPs who provide safety net care.
Data sources: Data were collected from patients at four safety net practices: a rural health clinic, a rural nurse-managed health clinic, an urban nurse-managed health clinic, and an urban Indian health clinic.
Conclusions: The users of these practices reflected a significant degree of risk for poor health outcomes based on characteristics of risk identified in the literature. Patients seen in nurse-managed health clinics without federal subsidies had more risk that those in federally supported clinics.
Implications for practice: Given the increasing evidence of the impact of social and environment factors on poor health outcomes, the importance of assessing and describing the characteristics of risk is discussed. These data are essential for supporting the value of these NP-provided safety net services to healthcare insurers and federal health policy makers.