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To Be or Not To Be – Must a Physician Be On Premises When Supervising a PA?

The law in New Jersey states that a physician assistant (PA) may practice only under the direct supervision of a physician. At any one time, a physician may supervise up to four PAs.  We are often asked what “direct supervision” means and whether the supervising physician is required to be on premises for a PA to be able to see patients.  The answer depends on whether the PA is practicing in an outpatient or inpatient setting.

In an outpatient setting, such as in an office, the physician, generally, does not need to be on premises.  The physician simply should be accessible by electronic communication.  However, the supervising physician is required to be on premises for those procedures that require intravenous or intra-arterial injection of contrast materials, endoscopic biopsy of tissues, and elective endotracheal intubation.

In an in-patient setting, such as in a hospital, the supervising physician needs to be continuously or intermittently present on-site with constant availability through electronic communications.  Additionally, if the PA is performing low-risk obstetrical deliveries, the supervising physician is required to be on premises and be available to respond immediately.

If you have any questions about supervising physician assistants, please contact me at SLRos@nmmlaw.com.