Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Final Text


Elimination of specific requirement for supervising physician to ...
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Part I
General Provisions

18VAC85-50-10. Definitions.

A. The following words and terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them in § 54.1-2900 of the Code of Virginia:


"Physician assistant."

B. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Committee" means the Advisory Committee on Physician Assistants as specified in § 54.1-2950.1of the Code of Virginia.

"Group practice" means the practice of a group of two or more doctors of medicine, osteopathy, or podiatry licensed by the board who practice as a partnership or professional corporation.

"Institution" means a hospital, nursing home or other health care facility, community health center, public health center, industrial medicine or corporation clinic, a medical service facility, student health center, or other setting approved by the board.

"NCCPA" means the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

"Protocol" "Practice agreement" means a set of directions written agreement developed by the supervising physician that defines the supervisory relationship between the physician assistant and the physician and the circumstances under which the physician will see and evaluate the patient.

"Supervision" means:

1. "Alternate supervising physician" means a member of the same group or professional corporation or partnership of any licensee, any hospital or any commercial enterprise with the supervising physician. Such alternating supervising physician shall be a physician licensed in the Commonwealth who has registered with the board and who has accepted responsibility for the supervision of the service that a physician assistant renders.

2. "Direct supervision" means the physician is in the room in which a procedure is being performed.

3. "General supervision" means the supervising physician is easily available and can be physically present or accessible for consultation with the physician assistant within one hour.

4. "Personal supervision" means the supervising physician is within the facility in which the physician's assistant is functioning.

5. "Supervising physician" means the doctor of medicine, osteopathy, or podiatry licensed in the Commonwealth who has accepted responsibility for the supervision of the service that a physician assistant renders.

6. "Continuous supervision" means the supervising physician has on-going, regular communication with the physician assistant on the care and treatment of patients.


Part IV
Practice Requirements

18VAC85-50-101. Requirements for a protocol practice agreement.

A. Prior to initiation of practice, a physician assistant and his supervising physician shall submit a written protocol practice agreement which spells out the roles and functions of the assistant. Any such protocol practice agreement shall take into account such factors as the physician assistant's level of competence, the number of patients, the types of illness treated by the physician, the nature of the treatment, special procedures, and the nature of the physician availability in ensuring direct physician involvement at an early stage and regularly thereafter. The protocol practice agreement shall also provide an evaluation process for the physician assistant's performance, including a requirement specifying the time period, proportionate to the acuity of care and practice setting, within which the supervising physician shall review the record of services rendered by the physician assistant.

B. The board may require information regarding the level of supervision, i.e. "direct," "personal" or "general," with which the supervising physician plans to supervise the physician assistant for selected tasks. The board may also require the supervising physician to document the assistant's competence in performing such tasks.

C. If the role of the assistant includes prescribing for drugs and devices, the written protocol practice agreement shall include those:

1. Those schedules and categories of drugs and devices that are within the scope of practice and proficiency of the supervising physician.; and

2. Requirements for periodic site visits by supervising licensees who supervise and direct assistants who provide services at a location other than where the licensee regularly practices.

D. If the initial practice agreement did not include prescriptive authority, an addendum to the practice agreement for prescriptive authority shall be submitted. 

E. If there are any changes in supervision, authorization, or scope of practice, a revised practice agreement shall be submitted at the time of the change.


18VAC85-50-110. Responsibilities of the supervisor.

The supervising physician shall:

1. See and evaluate any patient who presents the same complaint twice in a single episode of care and has failed to improve significantly. Such physician involvement shall occur not less frequently than every fourth visit for a continuing illness Review the clinical course and treatment plan for any patient who presents for the same acute complaint twice in a single episode of care and has failed to improve as expected. The supervising physician shall be involved with any patient with a continuing illness as noted in the written practice agreement for the evaluation process.

2. Be responsible for all invasive procedures.

a. Under general supervision, a physician assistant may insert a nasogastric tube, bladder catheter, needle, or peripheral intravenous catheter, but not a flow-directed catheter, and may perform minor suturing, venipuncture, and subcutaneous intramuscular or intravenous injection.

b. All other invasive procedures not listed above must be performed under direct supervision unless, after directly supervising the performance of a specific invasive procedure three times or more, the supervising physician attests to the competence of the physician assistant to perform the specific procedure without direct supervision by certifying to the board in writing the number of times the specific procedure has been performed and that the physician assistant is competent to perform the specific procedure. After such certification has been accepted and approved by the board, the physician assistant may perform the procedure under general supervision.

3. Be responsible for all prescriptions issued by the assistant and attest to the competence of the assistant to prescribe drugs and devices.


18VAC85-50-115. Responsibilities of the physician assistant.

A. The physician assistant shall not render independent health care and shall:

1. Perform only those medical care services that are within the scope of the practice and proficiency of the supervising physician as prescribed in the physician assistant's protocol practice agreement. When a physician assistant is to be supervised by an alternate supervising physician outside the scope of specialty of the supervising physician, then the physician assistant's functions shall be limited to those areas not requiring specialized clinical judgment, unless a separate protocol practice agreement for that alternate supervising physician is approved and on file with the board.

2. Prescribe only those drugs and devices as allowed in Part V (18VAC85-50-130 et seq.) of this chapter.

3. Wear during the course of performing his duties identification showing clearly that he is a physician assistant.

B. If, due to illness, vacation, or unexpected absence, the supervising physician is unable to supervise the activities of his assistant, such supervising physician may temporarily delegate the responsibility to another doctor of medicine, osteopathy osteopathic medicine, or podiatry. The supervising physician so delegating his responsibility shall report such arrangement for coverage, with the reason therefor, to the board office in writing, subject to the following provisions:

1. For planned absence, such notification shall be received at the board office at least one month prior to the supervising physician's absence;

2. For sudden illness or other unexpected absence, the board office shall be notified as promptly as possible, but in no event later than one week; and

3. Temporary coverage may not exceed four weeks unless special permission is granted by the board.

C. With respect to assistants employed by institutions, the following additional regulations shall apply:

1. No assistant may render care to a patient unless the physician responsible for that patient has signed the protocol practice agreement to act as supervising physician for that assistant. The board shall make available appropriate forms for physicians to join the protocol practice agreement for an assistant employed by an institution.

2. Any such protocol practice agreement as described in subdivision 1 of this subsection shall delineate the duties which said physician authorizes the assistant to perform.

3. The assistant shall, as soon as circumstances may dictate, report an acute or significant finding or change in clinical status to the supervising physician concerning the examination of the patient. The assistant shall also record his findings in appropriate institutional records.

D. Practice by a physician assistant in a hospital, including an emergency department, shall be in accordance with § 54.1-2952 of the Code of Virginia.


Part V
Prescriptive Authority

18VAC85-50-130. Qualifications for approval of prescriptive authority.

An applicant for prescriptive authority shall meet the following requirements:

1. Hold a current, unrestricted license as a physician assistant in the Commonwealth;

2. Submit a protocol practice agreement acceptable to the board prescribed in 18VAC85-50-101. This protocol practice agreement must be approved by the board prior to issuance of prescriptive authority;

3. Submit evidence of successful passing of the NCCPA exam; and

4. Submit evidence of successful completion of a minimum of 35 hours of acceptable training to the board in pharmacology.


18VAC85-50-150. Protocol regarding prescriptive authority. (Repealed.)

A. A physician assistant with prescriptive authority may prescribe only within the scope of the written protocol as prescribed in 18VAC85-50-101.

B. A new protocol must be submitted with the initial application for prescriptive authority and with the application for each biennial renewal, if there have been any changes in supervision, authorization or scope of practice.