A bill with bi-partisan support is advancing in the Arizona Legislature to reduce physician supervision of Physician Assistants. (See House Bill 2043 https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/56leg/1R/bills/HB2043H.pdf)
Currently, PAs must work under the auspices and supervision of an assigned physician, and that physician is legally responsible for any malpractice committed by the PA.
Under the proposed law, PAs with 8000 or more hours of clinical practice do not need supervision and may practice independently. The PA shall continue “to collaborate with, consult with or refer to the appropriate health care professional as indicated by the patient's condition and by the Physician Assistant's education, experience and competencies.”
The proposal also states that the level of collaboration required shall be determined by the policies of the practice setting. Collaboration, consultation and referral may occur through “electronic means” and does not require physical presence.
Physicians will no longer be legally responsible for the conduct of PAs with over 8000 hours of clinical experience. PAs with the 8000-hour experience level will be fully independent and solely responsible for any malpractice.
The rationale for this law is to increase the availability of health care in rural areas. The law has wide support by both political parties, and it is expected to pass and to be signed by Governor Hobbs.
Whether this law helps alleviate physician shortages in rural areas remains to be seen. Whatever the case, people are entitled to competent medical care whether by doctors or PAs, and we will investigate any case where patients were harmed by poor medical care.