A Physician Assistant's Mistakes Create Liability for the Supervising Doctor

A physician assistant, or PA, is a type of healthcare provider which has really rose in prominence the last couple of years.  With the raising costs of healthcare and medical supplies, PAs have been helpful in lowering the cost of care for most consumers while still providing very capable services.  

 

Think of a PA to a doctor as a paralegal is to a lawyer.  Both a PA and paralegal can perform almost all of the tasks that a doctor and lawyer can perform, but both cannot act independently.  For instance, a PA can perform minor surgeries under local anesthesia but cannot do major surgeries.  PAs can also prescribe most medications and drugs, but not every kind and not to every patient.  This is why a supervising doctor is needed.

 

While there are many perks of a PA as a healthcare provider, a PA is indeed less trained than a medical doctor.  This means less schooling, internship, and residency.  The testing requirements are also less.  This makes a PA riskier in some circumstances, particularly with more complicated cases, procedures, or patient problems.

 

When a PA makes a mistake which constitutes New York medical malpractice, it can result in serious personal injury to the victim.  The PA will be liable for the injuries caused such as the pain and suffering, lost wages, lost earnings, medical expenses, and other related injuries.  

 

Since a medical doctor MUST supervise a PA, the medical doctor will also be vicariously liable for the PA’s medical mistakes.  This is true even if the doctor have nothing to do with the incidents which resulted in medical malpractice.  It is presumed under the law that the PA will work with and consult the doctor prior to acting, and the doctor will keep abreast of what the PA is doing.  The relationship is one of respondeat superior, which means the PA is acting as an agent of the medical doctor.

 

Therefore, mistakes by a PA may result in liability for the supervising doctor.  This also means any other nurses also assisting with care may also be liable.  If the treatment occurred in a practice group, office, or hospital, the entity may also be liable because it is being benefited by the PA and the doctor, thus it has the burdens of medical malpractice injuries.  Said differently, the employer will be liable for the negligent acts of the employees, which include the PA’s mistakes, being supervised by the doctor, and all working for the entity.

 

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected]  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.

 
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