(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Approved program" means an educational program for physician assistants approved and accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or its successor;
(2) "Health care facility" means any licensed hospital, nursing home, extended care facility, state health or mental institution, clinic or physician's office;
(3) "Physician assistant" means an assistant to a physician who is a graduate of an approved program of instruction in primary health care or surgery, has attained a baccalaureate or master's degree, has passed the national certification examination and is qualified to perform direct patient care services under the supervision of a physician;
(4) "Physician assistant-midwife" means a physician assistant who meets all qualifications set forth under subdivision (3) of this subsection and fulfills the requirements set forth in subsection (d) of this section, is subject to all provisions of this section and assists in the management and care of a woman and her infant during the prenatal, delivery and postnatal periods; and
(5) "Supervising physician" means a doctor or doctors of medicine or podiatry permanently and fully licensed in this state without restriction or limitation who assume legal and supervisory responsibility for the work or training of any physician assistant under his or her supervision.
(b) The board shall promulgate rules pursuant to the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code governing the extent to which physician assistants may function in this state. The rules shall provide that the physician assistant is limited to the performance of those services for which he or she is trained and that he or she performs only under the supervision and control of a physician permanently licensed in this state but that supervision and control does not require the personal presence of the supervising physician at the place or places where services are rendered if the physician assistant's normal place of employment is on the premises of the supervising physician. The supervising physician may send the physician assistant off the premises to perform duties under his or her direction but a separate place of work for the physician assistant may not be established. In promulgating the rules, the board shall allow the physician assistant to perform those procedures and examinations and, in the case of certain authorized physician assistants, to prescribe at the direction of his or her supervising physician, in accordance with subsection (r) of this section, those categories of drugs submitted to it in the job description required by this section. Certain authorized physician assistants may pronounce death in accordance with the rules proposed by the board which receive legislative approval. The board shall compile and publish an annual report that includes a list of currently licensed physician assistants and their supervising physician(s) and location in the state.
(c) The board shall license as a physician assistant any person who files an application together with a proposed job description and furnishes satisfactory evidence to it that he or she has met the following standards:
(1) Is a graduate of an approved program of instruction in primary health care or surgery;
(2) Has passed the certifying examination for a primary care physician assistant administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and has maintained certification by that commission so as to be currently certified;
(3) Is of good moral character; and
(4) Has attained a baccalaureate or master's degree.
(d) The board shall license as a physician assistant-midwife any person who meets the standards set forth under subsection (c) of this section and, in addition thereto, the following standards:
(1) Is a graduate of a school of midwifery accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives;
(2) Has passed an examination approved by the board; and
(3) Practices midwifery under the supervision of a board-certified obstetrician, gynecologist or a board-certified family practice physician who routinely practices obstetrics.
(e) The board may license as a physician assistant any person who files an application together with a proposed job description and furnishes satisfactory evidence that he or she is of good moral character and meets either of the following standards:
(1) He or she is a graduate of an approved program of instruction in primary health care or surgery prior to July 1, 1994, and has passed the certifying examination for a physician assistant administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and has maintained certification by that commission so as to be currently certified; or
(2) He or she had been certified by the board as a physician assistant then classified as Type B prior to July 1, 1983.
(f) Licensure of an assistant to a physician practicing the specialty of ophthalmology is permitted under this section: Provided, That a physician assistant may not dispense a prescription for a refraction.
(g) When a graduate of an approved program who has successfully passed the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants' certifying examination submits an application to the board for a physician assistant license, accompanied by a job description as referenced by this section, and a $50 temporary license fee, and the application is complete, the board shall issue to that applicant a temporary license allowing that applicant to function as a physician assistant.
(h) When a graduate of an approved program submits an application to the board for a physician assistant license, accompanied by a job description as referenced by this section, and a $50 temporary license fee, and the application is complete, the board shall issue to the applicant a temporary license allowing the applicant to function as a physician assistant until the applicant successfully passes the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants' certifying examination so long as the applicant sits for and obtains a passing score on the examination next offered following graduation from the approved program.
(i) No applicant may receive a temporary license who, following graduation from an approved program, has not obtained a passing score on the examination.
(j) A physician assistant who has not been certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants will be restricted to work under the direct supervision of the supervising physician.
(k) A physician assistant who has been issued a temporary license shall, within thirty days of receipt of written notice from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants of his or her performance on the certifying examination, notify the board in writing of his or her results. In the event of failure of that examination, the temporary license shall terminate automatically and the board shall so notify the physician assistant in writing.
(l) In the event a physician assistant fails a recertification examination of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and is no longer certified, the physician assistant shall immediately notify his or her supervising physician or physicians and the board in writing. The physician assistant shall immediately cease practicing, the license shall terminate automatically and the physician assistant is not eligible for reinstatement until he or she has obtained a passing score on the examination.
(m) A physician applying to the board to supervise a physician assistant shall affirm that the range of medical services set forth in the physician assistant's job description are consistent with the skills and training of the supervising physician and the physician assistant. Before a physician assistant can be employed or otherwise use his or her skills, the supervising physician and the physician assistant must obtain approval of the job description from the board. The board may revoke or suspend any license of an assistant to a physician for cause, after giving the assistant an opportunity to be heard in the manner provided by article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code and as set forth in rules duly adopted by the board.
(n) The supervising physician is responsible for observing, directing and evaluating the work, records and practices of each physician assistant performing under his or her supervision. He or she shall notify the board in writing of any termination of his or her supervisory relationship with a physician assistant within ten days of the termination. The legal responsibility for any physician assistant remains with the supervising physician at all times including occasions when the assistant under his or her direction and supervision aids in the care and treatment of a patient in a health care facility. In his or her absence, a supervising physician must designate an alternate supervising physician but the legal responsibility remains with the supervising physician at all times. A health care facility is not legally responsible for the actions or omissions of the physician assistant unless the physician assistant is an employee of the facility.
(o) The acts or omissions of a physician assistant employed by health care facilities providing inpatient or outpatient services are the legal responsibility of the facilities. Physician assistants employed by facilities in staff positions shall be supervised by a permanently licensed physician.
(p) A health care facility shall report in writing to the board within sixty days after the completion of the facility's formal disciplinary procedure and after the commencement and conclusion of any resulting legal action, the name of any physician assistant practicing in the facility whose privileges at the facility have been revoked, restricted, reduced or terminated for any cause including resignation, together with all pertinent information relating to the action. The health care facility shall also report any other formal disciplinary action taken against any physician assistant by the facility relating to professional ethics, medical incompetence, medical malpractice, moral turpitude or drug or alcohol abuse. Temporary suspension for failure to maintain records on a timely basis or failure to attend staff or section meetings need not be reported.
(q) When functioning as a physician assistant, the physician assistant shall wear a name tag that identifies him or her as a physician assistant. A two and one-half by three and one-half inch card of identification shall be furnished by the board upon licensure of the physician assistant.
(r) A physician assistant may write or sign prescriptions or transmit prescriptions by word of mouth, telephone or other means of communication at the direction of his or her supervising physician. A fee of $50 will be charged for prescription-writing privileges. The board shall promulgate rules pursuant to the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code governing the eligibility and extent to which a physician assistant may prescribe at the direction of the supervising physician. The rules shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) Provisions and restrictions for approving a state formulary classifying pharmacologic categories of drugs that may be prescribed by a physician assistant are as follows:
(A) Schedules I and II of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, antineoplastic, radiopharmaceuticals, general anesthetics and radiographic contrast materials shall be excluded from the formulary;
(B) Drugs listed under Schedule III shall be limited to a seventy-two hour supply without refill;
(C) In addition to the above referenced provisions and restrictions and at the direction of a supervising physician, the rules shall permit the prescribing of an annual supply of any drug, with the exception of controlled substances, which is prescribed for the treatment of a chronic condition, other than chronic pain management. For the purposes of this section, a "chronic condition" is a condition which lasts three months or more, generally cannot be prevented by vaccines, can be controlled but not cured by medication and does not generally disappear. These conditions, with the exception of chronic pain, include, but are not limited to, arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and seizures and obesity. The prescriber authorized in this section shall note on the prescription the chronic disease being treated.
(D) Categories of other drugs may be excluded as determined by the board.
(2) All pharmacological categories of drugs to be prescribed by a physician assistant shall be listed in each job description submitted to the board as required in subsection (i) of this section;
(3) The maximum dosage a physician assistant may prescribe;
(4) A requirement that to be eligible for prescription privileges, a physician assistant shall have performed patient care services for a minimum of two years immediately preceding the submission to the board of the job description containing prescription privileges and shall have successfully completed an accredited course of instruction in clinical pharmacology approved by the board; and
(5) A requirement that to maintain prescription privileges, a physician assistant shall continue to maintain national certification as a physician assistant and, in meeting the national certification requirements, shall complete a minimum of ten hours of continuing education in rational drug therapy in each certification period. Nothing in this subsection permits a physician assistant to independently prescribe or dispense drugs.
(s) A supervising physician may not supervise at any one time more than three full-time physician assistants or their equivalent, except that a physician may supervise up to four hospital-employed physician assistants. No physician shall supervise more than four physician assistants at any one time.
(t) A physician assistant may not sign any prescription, except in the case of an authorized physician assistant at the direction of his or her supervising physician in accordance with the provisions of subsection (r) of this section. A physician assistant may not perform any service that his or her supervising physician is not qualified to perform. A physician assistant may not perform any service that is not included in his or her job description and approved by the board as provided for in this section.
(u) The provisions of this section do not authorize a physician assistant to perform any specific function or duty delegated by this code to those persons licensed as chiropractors, dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists or pharmacists or certified as nurse anesthetists.
(v) Each application for licensure submitted by a licensed supervising physician under this section is to be accompanied by a fee of $200. A fee of $100 is to be charged for the biennial renewal of the license. A fee of $50 is to be charged for any change or addition of supervising physician or change or addition of job location. A fee of $50 will be charged for prescriptive writing privileges.
(w) As a condition of renewal of physician assistant license, each physician assistant shall provide written documentation of participation in and successful completion during the preceding two-year period of continuing education, in the number of hours specified by the board by rule, designated as Category I by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Physician Assistants or the Academy of Family Physicians and continuing education, in the number of hours specified by the board by rule, designated as Category II by the Association or either Academy.
(x) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, failure to timely submit the required written documentation results in the automatic expiration of any license as a physician assistant until the written documentation is submitted to and approved by the board.
(y) If a license is automatically expired and reinstatement is sought within one year of the automatic expiration, the former licensee shall:
(1) Provide certification with supporting written documentation of the successful completion of the required continuing education;
(2) Pay a renewal fee; and
(3) Pay a reinstatement fee equal to fifty percent of the renewal fee.
(z) If a license is automatically expired and more than one year has passed since the automatic expiration, the former licensee shall:
(1) Apply for a new license;
(2) Provide certification with supporting written documentation of the successful completion of the required continuing education; and
(3) Pay such fees as determined by the board.
(aa) It is unlawful for any physician assistant to represent to any person that he or she is a physician, surgeon or podiatrist. A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than two years, or be fined not more than $2,000, or both fined and imprisoned.
(bb) All physician assistants holding valid certificates issued by the board prior to July 1, 1992, are licensed under this section.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2013 1st Special Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.