Malpractice risks for physicians overseeing NPs, PAs: 10 things to know

Physicians often underestimate their liability when it comes to the supervision of their nurse practitioners and physician assistants, according to an April 6 report from Medscape

Here are 10 things to know about physician malpractice risks and advanced practitioners:

1. Of the claims against NPs between 2011 and 2016, 82 percent also mentioned the supervising physician. 

2. If a physician is assigned to supervise an NP or PA through hospital bylaws, they can be responsible for the NP's or PA's mistake even if they don't receive extra pay or hours for the supervisory duties. 

3. State licensure boards often sanction physicians for improperly supervising NPs and PAs. 

4. Twenty-seven states no longer require direct supervision for all or most NPs. 

5. Two states have eliminated mandating that PAs have a specific relationship with a physician. 

6. Liability can shift from physicians to NPs when the NP is considered fully independent. 

7. The average liability NPs incurred in lawsuits rose 10.5 percent between  2017 and 2022. 

8. The percentage of NP malpractice lawsuits that were against autonomous NPs rose from 7 percent to 16.4 percent between 2012 and 2017. 

9. Enacting less restrictive scope-of-practice laws for NPs decreases the number of payments physicians make in NP cases by 31 percent, according to the report. 

10. Four states do not allow physicians to testify as expert witnesses in malpractice cases against NPs. 

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