Knoxville Nurse Practitioner & Physician Assistant Malpractice Attorney
The number of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician’s assistants (PAs) have significantly increased in recent years. This surge in NPs and PAs across the Country has frequently and directly impacted the physicians who hire them, as they are often liable for NP and PA malpractice. Some states have given NPs full authority to practice medicine, which includes evaluating and diagnosing patients. Tennessee is one of the remaining states that have more restrictive rules. If you are a victim of medical malpractice and have an NP or PA involved, contact an experienced Knoxville medical malpractice attorney at Brezina Law, PLLC.
NPs and PAs are an important part of the modern American medical system. NPs and PAs provide hands-on care, which is often cheaper and more accessible. This service is especially important in urban and rural areas which have a shortage of primary care doctors. However, NPs and PAs are also a target for unscrupulous drug companies who want NPs to prescribe medication to every patient they treat, whether the patient needs it or not.
Tennessee Laws on Mid-Level Providers, such as Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants
There are specific laws and protections in place when it comes to NPs. For one, legal supervision is required. In Tennessee, a supervising physician is still required to serve over NPs. Moreover, NPs have the authority to prescribe II-V controlled substances once they have received a Certificate of Fitness. The State Board of Nursing issues this certificate. Schedule II-IV medications can be prescribed when there has been a consultation with the physician. There is a State-wide policy that recognizes NPs as primary care providers (PCP). When working as a PCP, NPs can provide a wide variety of necessary health services, but they must be within the legal guidelines.
In Tennessee, a PA must have a written protocol in place between the PA and the supervising physician. The Board of Medical Examiners is the regulatory agency that oversees PAs. PAs can also issue prescriptions for Schedule II-V controlled substances if the supervising physician delegates this responsibility. PAs can provide a range of services, subject to the written protocol developed with the supervising physician. PAs can only legally perform those services that are within their competence and skill level and within the usual scope of practice, as defined by written protocols.
How Physicians Can Limit Liability
Physicians should be looking at ways to limit their liability and ensure that they hire the best people for the job. The doctor can verify a mid-level provider’s credentials. They also need to develop comprehensive written protocols. These define what the role of each position is and clarify what each is authorized to do. The physician also needs to have the capacity and ability to supervise them. On the flip side, the NP or PA should feel comfortable with asking the physician questions, if necessary. To work together successfully, there must be clearly defined roles and good communication between all parties.
Contact a Knoxville Medical Malpractice Lawyer
With the Affordable Care Act and an evident shortage of qualified doctors, mid-level professionals such as NPs and PAs are here to stay. If you believe you have a valid medical malpractice claim involving either an NP or PA, you could be entitled to receive financial compensation. Contact a Knoxville Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Brezina Law, PLLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.