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Introduction

This chapter examines the relationship between physicians and nonphysician health care providers. Whether in solo practice in a small town or as a member of a large multispecialty health care delivery team, all physicians delegate certain professional duties to physician extenders (PEs). (This term is used to denote physician's assistants, nurse-practitioners, child health associates, public health nurses, and other personnel when they are engaged in medical practice under the authority of a physician.) Physicians must recognize when they have implicitly delegated duties for which they retain legal responsibility. When PEs injure patients because they have been delegated tasks beyond their abilities, the rules of vicarious liability attribute their negligence to the supervising physician.


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