Physicians should supervise physician assistants to avoid malpractice

As the use of physician assistants (PA) grows, healthcare administrators should ensure appropriate physician supervision of PAs, according to Patrick A. Salvi, a medical malpractice attorney at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. in Illinois, in a press release on Friday.

"It could be a slippery slope," Salvi said. "On the one hand, hospitals are busy places, and doctors need PAs who can help lessen the heavy patient workload. But doctors are also required to supervise those PAs, and if they don't do it well, they can be held liable for medical negligence when hospital errors occur."

Seventy percent of emergency physicians do not believe that PAs are more likely to commit malpractice, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants last month. Even though physicians may be confident in PA care, Salvi warned of proper supervision.

PA supervision requirements vary by state and sometimes by institution.

The number of PAs in the U.S. will increase from 74,800 in 2008 to 103,900 by 2018, according to the press release.

For more:
- read the press release
- check out the JAAPA study