Taken out of con­text

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Letters -

The Amer­i­can Academy of Physi­cian As­sis­tants is con­cerned about the way the quotes from Ann Davis of the Amer­i­can Academy of Physi­cian As­sis­tants were taken out of con­text in the ar­ti­cle “Help­ing hands” (May 23, p. 26).

She was not asked at all about the Med­i­cal So­ci­ety of the State of New York’s res­o­lu­tion on “physi­cian ex­ten­ders”—the fo­cus of the ar­ti­cle—de­spite ap­pear­ance to the con­trary in print. Had Ann been in­formed of the ar­ti­cle’s fo­cus, she would have ad­dressed sev­eral im­pli­ca­tions in MSSNY’s res­o­lu­tion.

The res­o­lu­tion im­plies that us­ing physi­cian as­sis­tants to ex­am­ine, di­ag­nose and treat pa­tients is a new con­cept. Yet physi­cian as­sis­tants, in a va­ri­ety of clin­i­cal set­tings and spe­cial­ties, have treated New York pa­tients for more than 40 years. There are nearly 8,000 prac­tic­ing physi­cian as­sis­tants in the Em­pire State— roughly 10% of all U.S. physi­cian as­sis­tants.

The res­o­lu­tion as­serts that gov­ern­ment and man­aged-care or­ga­ni­za­tions have de­vel­oped pro­grams in which physi­cian as­sis­tants prac­tice in­de­pen­dently. This is flatly un­true as physi­cian as­sis­tants are com­mit­ted to prac­tic­ing as mem- bers of physi­cian-physi­cian as­sis­tant teams.

MSSNY’s res­o­lu­tion calls for the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion to “in­sist that there be Level 1 ev­i­dence” that pa­tients re­ceive the same level of care from physi­cian as­sis­tants as physi­cians. Ms. Davis would have been happy to cite nu­mer­ous stud­ies fo­cus­ing on physi­cian as­sis­tants in a wide va­ri­ety of clin­i­cal set­tings and across sev­eral spe­cial­ties that demon­strate the ef­fec­tive­ness of physi­cian as­sis­tants prac­tic­ing in physi­cian-physi­cian as­sis­tant teams.

Brooke Braun Se­nior di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions Amer­i­can Academy of Physi­cian As­sis­tants

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