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The Florida Senate

2004 Florida Statutes

Section 459.022, Florida Statutes 2004

459.022  Physician assistants.--


(a)  The purpose of this section is to encourage more effective utilization of the skills of osteopathic physicians or groups of osteopathic physicians by enabling them to delegate health care tasks to qualified assistants when such delegation is consistent with the patient's health and welfare.

(b)  In order that maximum skills may be obtained within a minimum time period of education, a physician assistant shall be specialized to the extent that she or he can operate efficiently and effectively in the specialty areas in which she or he has been trained or is experienced.

(c)  The purpose of this section is to encourage the utilization of physician assistants by osteopathic physicians and to allow for innovative development of programs for the education of physician assistants.

(2)  DEFINITIONS.--As used in this section:

(a)  "Approved program" means a program, formally approved by the boards, for the education of physician assistants.

(b)  "Boards" means the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

(c)  "Council" means the Council on Physician Assistants.

(d)  "Trainee" means a person who is currently enrolled in an approved program.

(e)  "Physician assistant" means a person who is a graduate of an approved program or its equivalent or meets standards approved by the boards and is licensed to perform medical services delegated by the supervising physician.

(f)  "Supervision" means responsible supervision and control. Except in cases of emergency, supervision requires the easy availability or physical presence of the licensed physician for consultation and direction of the actions of the physician assistant. For the purposes of this definition, the term "easy availability" includes the ability to communicate by way of telecommunication. The boards shall establish rules as to what constitutes responsible supervision of the physician assistant.

(g)  "Proficiency examination" means an entry-level examination approved by the boards, including, but not limited to, those examinations administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

(h)  "Continuing medical education" means courses recognized and approved by the boards, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, or the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education.

(3)  PERFORMANCE OF SUPERVISING PHYSICIAN.--Each physician or group of physicians supervising a licensed physician assistant must be qualified in the medical areas in which the physician assistant is to perform and shall be individually or collectively responsible and liable for the performance and the acts and omissions of the physician assistant. A physician may not supervise more than four currently licensed physician assistants at any one time.


(a)  The boards shall adopt, by rule, the general principles that supervising physicians must use in developing the scope of practice of a physician assistant under direct supervision and under indirect supervision. These principles shall recognize the diversity of both specialty and practice settings in which physician assistants are used.

(b)  This chapter does not prevent third-party payors from reimbursing employers of physician assistants for covered services rendered by licensed physician assistants.

(c)  Licensed physician assistants may not be denied clinical hospital privileges, except for cause, so long as the supervising physician is a staff member in good standing.

(d)  A supervisory physician may delegate to a licensed physician assistant, pursuant to a written protocol, the authority to act according to s. 154.04(1)(c). Such delegated authority is limited to the supervising physician's practice in connection with a county health department as defined and established pursuant to chapter 154. The boards shall adopt rules governing the supervision of physician assistants by physicians in county health departments.

(e)  A supervisory physician may delegate to a fully licensed physician assistant the authority to prescribe any medication used in the supervisory physician's practice unless such medication is listed on the formulary created pursuant to s. 458.347 A fully licensed physician assistant may only prescribe such medication under the following circumstances:

1.  A physician assistant must clearly identify to the patient that she or he is a physician assistant. Furthermore, the physician assistant must inform the patient that the patient has the right to see the physician prior to any prescription being prescribed by the physician assistant.

2.  The supervisory physician must notify the department of her or his intent to delegate, on a department-approved form, before delegating such authority and notify the department of any change in prescriptive privileges of the physician assistant.

3.  The physician assistant must file with the department, before commencing to prescribe, evidence that she or he has completed a continuing medical education course of at least 3 classroom hours in prescriptive practice, conducted by an accredited program approved by the boards, which course covers the limitations, responsibilities, and privileges involved in prescribing medicinal drugs, or evidence that she or he has received education comparable to the continuing education course as part of an accredited physician assistant training program.

4.  The physician assistant must file with the department, before commencing to prescribe, evidence that the physician assistant has a minimum of 3 months of clinical experience in the specialty area of the supervising physician.

5.  The physician assistant must file with the department a signed affidavit that she or he has completed a minimum of 10 continuing medical education hours in the specialty practice in which the physician assistant has prescriptive privileges with each licensure renewal application.

6.  The department shall issue a license and a prescriber number to the physician assistant granting authority for the prescribing of medicinal drugs authorized within this paragraph upon completion of the foregoing requirements.

7.  The prescription must be written in a form that complies with chapter 499 and must contain, in addition to the supervisory physician's name, address, and telephone number, the physician assistant's prescriber number. Unless it is a drug sample dispensed by the physician assistant, the prescription must be filled in a pharmacy permitted under chapter 465, and must be dispensed in that pharmacy by a pharmacist licensed under chapter 465. The appearance of the prescriber number creates a presumption that the physician assistant is authorized to prescribe the medicinal drug and the prescription is valid.

8.  The physician assistant must note the prescription in the appropriate medical record, and the supervisory physician must review and sign each notation. For dispensing purposes only, the failure of the supervisory physician to comply with these requirements does not affect the validity of the prescription.

9.  This paragraph does not prohibit a supervisory physician from delegating to a physician assistant the authority to order medication for a hospitalized patient of the supervisory physician.

This paragraph does not apply to facilities licensed pursuant to chapter 395.

(5)  PERFORMANCE BY TRAINEES.--Notwithstanding any other law, a trainee may perform medical services when such services are rendered within the scope of an approved program.


(a)  The boards shall approve programs, based on recommendations by the council, for the education and training of physician assistants which meet standards established by rule of the boards. The council may recommend only those physician assistant programs that hold full accreditation or provisional accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs or its successor organization.

(b)  The boards shall adopt and publish standards to ensure that such programs operate in a manner that does not endanger the health or welfare of the patients who receive services within the scope of the programs. The boards shall review the quality of the curricula, faculties, and facilities of such programs and take whatever other action is necessary to determine that the purposes of this section are being met.


(a)  Any person desiring to be licensed as a physician assistant must apply to the department. The department shall issue a license to any person certified by the council as having met the following requirements:

1.  Is at least 18 years of age.

2.  Has satisfactorily passed a proficiency examination by an acceptable score established by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. If an applicant does not hold a current certificate issued by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and has not actively practiced as a physician assistant within the immediately preceding 4 years, the applicant must retake and successfully complete the entry-level examination of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants to be eligible for licensure.

3.  Has completed the application form and remitted an application fee not to exceed $300 as set by the boards. An application for licensure made by a physician assistant must include:

a.  A certificate of completion of a physician assistant training program specified in subsection (6).

b.  A sworn statement of any prior felony convictions.

c.  A sworn statement of any previous revocation or denial of licensure or certification in any state.

d.  Two letters of recommendation.

(b)  The licensure must be renewed biennially. Each renewal must include:

1.  A renewal fee not to exceed $500 as set by the boards.

2.  A sworn statement of no felony convictions in the previous 2 years.

(c)  Each licensed physician assistant shall biennially complete 100 hours of continuing medical education or shall hold a current certificate issued by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

(d)  Upon employment as a physician assistant, a licensed physician assistant must notify the department in writing within 30 days after such employment or after any subsequent changes in the supervising physician. The notification must include the full name, Florida medical license number, specialty, and address of the supervising physician.

(e)  Notwithstanding subparagraph (a)2., the department may grant to a recent graduate of an approved program, as specified in subsection (6), a temporary license to expire upon receipt of scores of the proficiency examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Between meetings of the council, the department may grant a temporary license to practice to physician assistant applicants based on the completion of all temporary licensure requirements. All such administratively issued licenses shall be reviewed and acted on at the next regular meeting of the council. The recent graduate may be licensed prior to employment, but must comply with paragraph (d). An applicant who has passed the proficiency examination may be granted permanent licensure. An applicant failing the proficiency examination is no longer temporarily licensed, but may reapply for a 1-year extension of temporary licensure. An applicant may not be granted more than two temporary licenses and may not be licensed as a physician assistant until she or he passes the examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. As prescribed by board rule, the council may require an applicant who does not pass the licensing examination after five or more attempts to complete additional remedial education or training. The council shall prescribe the additional requirements in a manner that permits the applicant to complete the requirements and be reexamined within 2 years after the date the applicant petitions the council to retake the examination a sixth or subsequent time.

(f)  The Board of Osteopathic Medicine may impose any of the penalties authorized under ss. 456.072 and 459.015(2) upon a physician assistant if the physician assistant or the supervising physician has been found guilty of or is being investigated for any act that constitutes a violation of this chapter or chapter 456.

(8)  DELEGATION OF POWERS AND DUTIES.--The boards may delegate such powers and duties to the council as they may deem proper.

(9)  COUNCIL ON PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS.--The Council on Physician Assistants is created within the department.

(a)  The council shall consist of five members appointed as follows:

1.  The chairperson of the Board of Medicine shall appoint three members who are physicians and members of the Board of Medicine. One of the physicians must supervise a physician assistant in the physician's practice.

2.  The chairperson of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine shall appoint one member who is a physician and a member of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

3.  The secretary of the department or her or his designee shall appoint a fully licensed physician assistant licensed under chapter 458 or this chapter.

(b)  Two of the members appointed to the council must be physicians who supervise physician assistants in their practice. Members shall be appointed to terms of 4 years, except that of the initial appointments, two members shall be appointed to terms of 2 years, two members shall be appointed to terms of 3 years, and one member shall be appointed to a term of 4 years, as established by rule of the boards. Council members may not serve more than two consecutive terms. The council shall annually elect a chairperson from among its members.

(c)  The council shall:

1.  Recommend to the department the licensure of physician assistants.

2.  Develop all rules regulating the use of physician assistants by physicians under chapter 458 and this chapter, except for rules relating to the formulary developed under s. 458.347 The council shall also develop rules to ensure that the continuity of supervision is maintained in each practice setting. The boards shall consider adopting a proposed rule developed by the council at the regularly scheduled meeting immediately following the submission of the proposed rule by the council. A proposed rule submitted by the council may not be adopted by either board unless both boards have accepted and approved the identical language contained in the proposed rule. The language of all proposed rules submitted by the council must be approved by both boards pursuant to each respective board's guidelines and standards regarding the adoption of proposed rules. If either board rejects the council's proposed rule, that board must specify its objection to the council with particularity and include any recommendations it may have for the modification of the proposed rule.

3.  Make recommendations to the boards regarding all matters relating to physician assistants.

4.  Address concerns and problems of practicing physician assistants in order to improve safety in the clinical practices of licensed physician assistants.

(d)  When the council finds that an applicant for licensure has failed to meet, to the council's satisfaction, each of the requirements for licensure set forth in this section, the council may enter an order to:

1.  Refuse to certify the applicant for licensure;

2.  Approve the applicant for licensure with restrictions on the scope of practice or license; or

3.  Approve the applicant for conditional licensure. Such conditions may include placement of the licensee on probation for a period of time and subject to such conditions as the council may specify, including but not limited to, requiring the licensee to undergo treatment, to attend continuing education courses, to work under the direct supervision of a physician licensed in this state, or to take corrective action.

(10)  INACTIVE AND DELINQUENT STATUS.--A license on inactive or delinquent status may be reactivated only as provided in s. 456.036

(11)  PENALTY.--Any person who has not been licensed by the council and approved by the department and who holds herself or himself out as a physician assistant or who uses any other term in indicating or implying that she or he is a physician assistant commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.084 or by a fine not exceeding $5,000.

(12)  DENIAL, SUSPENSION, OR REVOCATION OF LICENSURE.--The boards may deny, suspend, or revoke a physician assistant license if a board determines that the physician assistant has violated this chapter.

(13)  RULES.--The boards shall adopt rules to implement this section, including rules detailing the contents of the application for licensure and notification pursuant to subsection (7) and rules to ensure both the continued competency of physician assistants and the proper utilization of them by physicians or groups of physicians.

(14)  EXISTING PROGRAMS.--This section does not eliminate or supersede existing laws relating to other paramedical professions or services and is supplemental to all such existing laws relating to the licensure and practice of paramedical professions.

(15)  LIABILITY.--Each supervising physician using a physician assistant is liable for any acts or omissions of the physician assistant acting under the physician's supervision and control.

(16)  LEGAL SERVICES.--Legal services shall be provided to the council pursuant to s. 456.009(1).

(17)  FEES.--The department shall allocate the fees collected under this section to the council.

History.--ss. 1, 6, ch. 79-230; s. 309, ch. 81-259; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 22, 27, 29, 31, ch. 86-290; s. 37, ch. 88-1; s. 16, ch. 88-277; s. 5, ch. 88-361; s. 28, ch. 89-162; s. 3, ch. 91-22; ss. 4, 5, ch. 91-429; s. 4, ch. 92-22; s. 91, ch. 92-149; s. 112, ch. 94-218; s. 2, ch. 95-231; s. 2, ch. 96-197; s. 224, ch. 97-101; s. 1101, ch. 97-103; s. 35, ch. 97-264; s. 7, ch. 98-49; s. 55, ch. 98-166; s. 156, ch. 99-251; s. 113, ch. 2000-160; ss. 27, 43, ch. 2000-318; s. 2, ch. 2001-100; ss. 26, 56, ch. 2001-277.