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Frequently Asked Questions about Physician Assistants Practice

Frequently asked questions about the Physician Assistant scope of practice in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Is the supervising physician's name required to be on a prescription written by a PA?

Section 112 of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012 amends M.G. L. Chapter 94 C, Section 7 (g) and M.G.L. Chapter 112, Section 9E to remove the requirement that any prescription of medication made by a physician assistant must include the name of the supervising physician.

How many Physician Assistants can a Registered Physician supervise at one time?

Section 111 of Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012 amends the Board's statute at M.G.L. c. 112, § 9E to remove any reference to the number of physician assistants a registered physician may supervise at any one time.

Can a PA telephone a prescription to a pharmacist?

Board of Registration of Pharmacy and Department of Public Health regulations permit pharmacists to accept oral prescriptions from a Physician Assistant.  Pharmacists may only accept oral prescriptions for Schedule II drugs in an "emergency" as defined in DPH regulations at 105 CMR 701.003.

Is it legal for a PA to prescribe controlled substances using a supervising physician's DEA number?

No. In order to legally write prescriptions in MA, a PA must have, at minimum, a MA Controlled Substance Registration (CSR) number. In addition, to order controlled substances in Schedules II - V, a PA must have his/her own DEA registration number. See MGL, c. 112, s. 9E; MGL, c. 94C, ss. 7, 9 & 20; 105 CMR 700.004; and, 263 CMR 5.07 (1)

Is a PA required to have written practice guidelines or protocols?

a. 263 CMR 5.04 (4): specific written protocols for the PA's performance of major invasive procedures. The protocols, developed between a supervising physician and PA, must specify the level of supervision the service requires. See 263 CMR 5.04(4).

b. 263 CMR 5.07: PAs must have written prescription guidelines that are mutually developed and agreed to by the supervising physician and PA. Guidelines must to be reviewed annually and signed by both the PA and the supervising physician. See Prescription Practice” under “Scope of Practice”.  See 263 CMR 5.07.

c. 263 CMR 5.08: PAs authorized to operate fluoroscopic x-ray systems and perform fluoroscopic procedures must have mutually developed and agreed upon fluoroscopic practice guidelines with the supervising physician.  It the PA who is authorized to operate fluoroscopic x-ray systems and perform fluoroscopic procedures does so under the direction of more than one supervising physician, there must be practice guidelines for such practice with each supervising physician.

263 CMR 5: Scope of practice, employment of physician assistants and standards of conduct

Can a physician assistant pronounce death?

Pursuant to M.G. L. Chapter 46, §9 a registered physician assistant, after the death of a person who was a patient under the care of such physician assistant, may declare such person dead; provided, however, that said physician assistant first makes a reasonable effort to contact the attending physician or medical examiner before making such determination or pronouncement; provided, further, that such determination or pronouncement be made in writing on a form approved by the commissioner of public health and subscribed under pains and penalties of perjury; and, provided further, that the medical examiner be notified forthwith of the exact location to which the decedent has been removed.

Is a PA’s supervising physician required to be in the same location when a PA provides medical care?

Pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 112, §9E a physician assistant may perform medical services when such services are rendered under the supervision of a registered physician, that such supervision shall be continuous but shall not require the personal presence of the supervising physician.

Do I have to obtain renewal CEUs during the first 12 months of licensure?

Pursuant to Board regulations at 263 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 3.05(3) each registered physician assistant must certify that s/he has completed at least 100 hours of continuing education for each in courses or programs approved by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American Medical Association, or like accrediting body approved by the Board in order to renew his or her license to practice as a physician assistant.  Such continuing education is required for each renewal cycle. The Board waives this requirement for licensed physician assistants who graduated from an approved physician assistant training program within one year of license issuance.