Study Finds That Over 90% Of PAs Provide Medical Care To Relatives
According to researchers at this year’s 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), more than 90% of physician assistants (PAs) have provided care for the relatives. Spousal care was the most common, followed by siblings and a parent. This finding has drawn some critics to speak out against the practice:
“Unless the situation is emergent and immediate care is required, clinicians should refrain from providing healthcare services to their family members.” stated Ms. Estanislau.
Study methods and conclusions
Between August 2015 and October 2015, The New York Institute of Technology in New York City distributed a survey to more than 1,100 PAs in the New York State Society of PAs’ database.
Researchers aimed to determine the degree to which participants were treating their family members; the reasons for providing treatment; the reasons for not providing treatment; their comfort level in treating their relatives; the frequency of treatment provided; and the frequency of requests for treatment from family members. Of the 1,100 plus distributed surveys, 200 were completed by the PAs.
“The data show that although PAs report intervening in their family’s health matters more often than physicians, it tends to be in similar ways,” stated Ms. Estanislau.
Here is what the researchers found:
- 8% of PAs reported that they had never provided any care for their relatives
- 80% had performed a physical examination
- PAs, similar to physicians, were less likely to provide a given service to a family member as the level of complexity of the treatment increased
- PAs who were older, male, and more experienced were more likely to treat their relatives, feel comfortable providing care, and receive requests to provide care
- PAs were also more likely to provide services that were within their field of expertise
Ethical and safety concerns
“If PAs or other clinicians choose to provide healthcare services to their family members, extreme caution should be taken as both ethical and legal concerns may complicate the situation.” stated Ms. Estanislau.
The reasons for not providing care differed, according to the investigators. A majority of PAs (56.3%) preferred not to get involved, while 34% of physicians most frequently stated that the issue was outside their field of expertise.
“In the non-emergent setting, it is recommended that PAs take on the role of supporter or healthcare advocate for their relative rather than provider. If PAs or other clinicians choose to provide healthcare services to their family members, extreme caution should be taken as both ethical and legal concerns may complicate the situation.” stated Ms. Estanislau.