"PAs not doctors"
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"Democrats need a note from a doctor..."
“Democrats need a note from a doctor to replace a candidate, Utah says, and a physician assistant isn’t a doctor”
This is the title of an article written by a Salt Lake City Tribune writer on August 16, 2018. Here is a link to that article: https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/08/16/salt-lake-county/
It might be helpful to read the short article before continuing on with this news brief.
Whether you feel the Deputy Director of Elections, in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is utilizing political gamesmanship in order to keep a member of one political party out of the running for office or not, this issue may affect PA practice in the state of Utah. In reality, we have a government official dictating the scope of how PAs practice medicine in the State of Utah by taking “a very narrow interpretation of an election statute that states the candidate must have a note from a physician (see Utah Code 20A-1-501((1)(a)(ii)(B)” (Deputy Director of Elections Derek Brenchley’s words to me).
It may be understandable to initially demonstrate ignorance of laws that govern the practice of medicine for PAs in the State of Utah, however when both Jared Spackman, Chair of the PA DOPL Board and I as President of the Utah Academy of Physician Assistant, pointed out the error in reasoning through direct communication, the Deputy Director of Elections refused to reconsider the Lieutenant Governor’s office interpretation of the law. Utah Code R156-70a-501(1), clearly states that a Physician Assistant may authenticate any form (emphasis added) a physician may authenticate.
So, how might this affect your practice? When an official of the government, operating on behalf of the State of Utah, pronounces that PAs cannot sign a letter of medical necessity for a patient and this story is picked up locally and nationally, there may be negative repercussions for PAs. If employers of PAs become aware of this issue, they might think the State of Utah will not allow PAs to sign disability paperwork, provide health providers notes, letters, and other legal documents. Your UAPA executive Committee feels this ill-informed opinion damaged our reputation by implying physician assistants are not qualified to provide patient centered information. I encourage you to stand up for your profession and talk to your legislators and ask them to voice their concerns about the “very narrow interpretation” by both Justin Lee, director of elections and Derek Brenchley, deputy director of elections, regardless of your party affiliation. We cannot afford to allow the erosion of our practice act by government officials that may not fully understand the practice ramifications of interpreting the medical practice act in the name of political expediency.
Your UAPA elective representatives are vigorously engaged in dialogue with this office and are working to correct misconceptions, but you can amplify our voice. The more voices the officials hear from, the harder it will be to ignore the PA profession, and we can avoid dangerous misconceptions in the future.
Dan Crouse, MPAS, PA-C
President, Utah Academy of Physician Assistants