Employing Advanced Practice Providers: Balancing Benefits and Potential Malpractice Risks

Since the advent of managed care, the number of advanced practice providers (APPs) has grown rapidly. This group of healthcare professionals—also described as “physician extenders,” “mid-level practitioners,” and “allied health providers”—can be found in a wide variety of specialty areas and in clinical settings that include hospitals, outpatient clinics, and rural community centers.

This group comprises many types of clinicians, such as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse anesthetists. Currently, the two most prevalent APP categories are nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) estimates that more than 123,000 physician assistants practice in every medical setting in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) estimates that more than 234,000 nurse practitioners are licensed in the United States.

Today, APPs are important members of the healthcare team. APPs can obtain and record health histories, perform physical assessments, order diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications for patients—activities that have resulted in time savings and cost savings for physicians.

Get a Plan to Reduce Liability

As the number of practicing APPs increases, so does the potential for liability exposure. We’ve prepared an essential reference for practitioners who employ or supervise advanced practice providers.


The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

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