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Device Delegation Response

In Response to: “Device Delegation: Don’t Get Burned”

A recent article, “Device Delegation: Don’t Get Burned” published in Practical Dermatology, discussed the risks and liability associated with the performance of Laser and energy-based procedures by inadequately trained personnel. The Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants (SDPA) is in agreement with the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA) in that we oppose physicians or others who perform or oversee these procedures outside of their scope of practice and without the collaboration with a board certified dermatologist. The risks in these situations are both increased liability to the licensed provider and the potential for harm to the patient. The SDPA is also in favor of adequate training of providers and the clear and transparent communication with the patient about who will be providing care. What we cannot support about the model legislation – The Safe Laser and Energy-Based Device Act – promoted by the ASDSA, is that it would unnecessarily restrict Physician Assistants (PAs) who have been trained by their collaborating physician and other avenues to first understand skin and skin pathology and then to understand how these devices work and the risks associated with their use.

All Fellow members of the SDPA work in collaboration with a board certified/board eligible dermatologist. For the majority of dermatologists who properly train and supervise the PAs they work with, this legislation would represent an impediment to patient access to care. Those patients who cannot get care from a dermatologist’s office in a timely fashion will then be driven to those types of providers we are currently trying to protect them from. The decision to have direct on-site physician supervision vs general collaboration should be left to those who have the best ability to judge the training of the PA, and that is the dermatologist. All states have laws on the books to this effect, that the physician determines the scope of practice of the PA.

Those of us who have the safety of the patient as the top priority should be working together to protect our patients, not against each other due to a misunderstanding of how we are trained and how we function in the clinic.

The leadership of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants


Posted: April 12, 2016

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