Tort Cases Pending Before the Tennessee Supreme Court – Physician Assistants

There are a significant number of cases of interest to Tennessee tort lawyers pending before the Tennessee Supreme Court.  One of those cases is Cox v. M.A. Primary and Urgent Care Clinic, 2009 WL 230242 (Tenn. Ct. App. 230242 (Jan. 30, 2009). 

The issue in the case is the appropriate standard of care for a physician’s assistant.  The Court of Appeals ruled as follows:

the services provided by a physician assistant are provided under the supervision of a licensed physician and within the scope of practice of that physician, who is responsible for the treatment rendered by the physician assistant. Consequently, the standard of care applicable to a physician assistant is that of the supervising physician in the community in which the supervising physician practices.

The holding was based in part on the language of T.C.A. Sec. 63-19106(b), which provides as follows:

A physician assistant shall function only under the control and responsibility of a licensed physician. The supervising physician has complete and absolute authority over any action of the physician assistant. There shall, at all times, be a physician who is answerable for the actions of the physician assistant and who has the duty of assuring that there is proper supervision and control of the physician assistant and that the assistant’s activities are otherwise appropriate.

The patient-appellee’s brief was filed on October 16, 2009.  Oral argument should occur in the next couple of months and we can expect on opinion in the case in the Spring of 2010.


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