Medical board to hear proposal on doctor-physician assistant ratio

Michael Lopardi

Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Medical board to hear proposal on doctor-physician assistant ratio

CREATED Nov. 25, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A new proposal could impact the number of physician assistants you doctor can over see.

A proposal by the Clark County Medical Society would allow doctors to simultaneously supervise four physician assistants, according to a draft provided by the organization. The current limit is three.

On the flip side, the plan would also limit physician assistants to four supervising doctors. Currently, there is no limit. Essentially, the measure would create a four-to-one ratio both ways.

The proposal would allow either doctors or physician assistants to request the Board of Medical Examiners approve an exception in the limits on a case-by-case basis.

"We're just trying to clarify what the appropriate ratio for supervision will be so that the patient receiving care, and their primary provider they see is a physician assistant, that there's a proper supervision of that care," said Dr. Keith Brill, medical society president.

But there are also questions over whether the proposal could negatively impact physician assistants and their jobs.

A public workshop on the matter is set for Tuesday morning. 

The Nevada Academy of Physician Assistants worked with the medical society on the proposal, president-elect Blanca Tenhet told Action News over the phone. However, she said the details are still being worked out in a way to benefit everyone.

The proposal could have a bigger impact on smaller medical offices with fewer physicians, said Shelly Martin, vice president of operations for HealthCare Partners Nevada. Martin said most of the doctors in her company's offices are currently overseeing only one physician assistant. 

No final decision is expected at Tuesday's workshop, said Edward Cousineau, deputy executive director of the board of medical examiners. The proposal would need approval from the board at a regularly scheduled meeting, which may not happen until March. If approved, a legislative subcommittee would also need to sign off on the matter, Cousineau said.

The workshop is set for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners located at 6010 S. Rainbow Blvd., Building A, Ste. 1 in Las Vegas.

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