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A Health Care Law Alert

By: Brandon M. Dalziel


Michigan Public Act 379 of 2016 (MCL §333.7303a, et seq.) took effect on March 22, 2017. It changes the framework for the scope of practice for physician’s assistants (PAs).

Physicians and PAs will continue to work together as a team. However, PAs are now required to work with a “participating physician” under the terms of a practice agreement. This is a transition from the prior scope of practice regulations where PAs worked under supervision or delegation of a physician.

PAs are now independent prescribers. As independent prescribers, they must have their own Michigan Controlled Substance license, as well as a DEA registration, to prescribe Schedules 2 to 5 drugs. However, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs must still promulgate rules to set forth procedures and protocols for PAs’ prescribing authority pursuant to new law.Until then, it is advisable that the practice agreements include language that is consistent with the delegation and supervision provisions under the old law.

There are no longer strict PA/physician ratio limitations. Although there is increased flexibility, disciplinary action can result if the number of PAs per physician exceeds a reasonable standard-of-practice threshold.

The law significantly impacts PAs, physicians, and health care facilities. The existence and content of practice agreements are critical. Practice agreements generally define the communication and decision making process by which the PA and the participating physician provide medical care to their patients, but there are also specific requirements that practice agreements must meet. In addition, physicians should understand their role and responsibilities as a potential “participating physician.”

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