Study Findings Provide Significant Evidence to Support ASDSA’s Medical Spa Safety Act

The differences between physicians and non-physician practitioners have important implications for the quality of care and health outcomes of patients, according to a new study. Why? It’s hard to know what you don’t know.

The study, “Targeting Value-based Care with Physician-led Care Teams,” published in the January 2022 issue of the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association, provides a retrospective analysis almost 10 years of data from the Epic medical records of the Hattiesburg Clinic across southern Mississippi. It covers over 300 physicians and 150 advanced practice providers (nurse practitioners [NPs] and physician assistants [PAs]) with over 208,000 patient survey responses and cost data on over 33,000 unique Medicare beneficiaries.

The clinic allowed NPs and PAs to function with independence in the primary care (PCP) role under physician supervision. However, results from the study clearly showed they did not provide an equivalent value-based experience as physicians in the same the primary care setting. While NPs and PAs are crucial members of the care team, the authors concluded they should not function independently. 

“From the lens of dermatologic surgery, this research is significant evidence to support our model legislation aimed at making medical spas offering cosmetic medical procedures safer for patients,” says Sue Ellen Cox, MD, ASDSA President. “While there are many legitimate and safe physician-owned medical spas that operate with a high standard of patient care, we need to do more to reduce the risk of adverse events and added costs from procedures performed by non-physicians.”

The scope of practice of non-physicians are determined by state laws and regulation and can also be addressed in employer policies, procedures and protocols. The challenge, says Dr. Cox, is compliance with the changes. “Simply co-signing a chart without laying eyes on the patient is not adequate.”

Where ASDSA Stands:

ASDSA supports medical decisions based on patient outcomes and quality of care, as well as appropriate on-site physician supervision, oversight and training.

To ensure patient safety and quality care, ASDSA believes the practice of medicine should only be performed by licensed physicians and their properly trained and qualified delegates under the direct, on-site supervision of a licensed physician.

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