New Study Published in Journal of Medical Regulation Affirms Removing Barriers to PA Practice Improves Patient Access to High-quality Care

Alexandria, VA (Feb. 13, 2024) – Removing barriers to physician associate/assistant (PA) practice improves access to high-quality, cost-effective care and maintains patient safety, according to an article published today in the Journal of Medical Regulation (JMR).

The article, “Medical Malpractice Payment Reports of Physician Assistants/Associates Related to State Practice Laws and Regulation,” examines 10 years (2010-2019) of medical malpractice payment reports (MMPR) data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) compared to the laws and regulations of states for the same period.

The article was co-authored by American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) Senior Director, Regulatory and Professional Practice Sondra M. DePalma, DHSc, PA-C, CLS, CHC, FNLA, AACC, AAPA Senior Director, PA and Industry Research and Analysis Noël E. Smith, MA; AAPA Senior Research Analyst Sean Kolhoff, PhD; and A.T. Still University Associate Professor and Program Director Michael DePalma, DMSc, PA-C.

States with permissive practice environments (with four or more permissive scope of practice reforms) compared to restrictive states (with three or fewer scope of practice reforms) had no increased risk of PA MMPR occurrences. The research also demonstrated that almost all PA practice reforms lead to a reduction in MMPRs for PAs and physicians.

Some reforms examined included state laws and regulations that allow PAs to practice in collaboration or without a formal statuary relationship with a physician, permit physicians to collaborate with an unlimited number of PAs, and authorize medical teams to determine scope of practice at the practice level.

“Modernizing PA practice laws will strengthen team-based care and expand patient access at a time when so many communities are struggling to keep up with patient demands,” AAPA CEO Lisa M. Gables, CPA, said.

“In fact, more than two-fifths of U.S. adults say their community does not have the resources needed to keep people healthy. Unleashing the full potential of PAs by removing unnecessary barriers will empower healthcare teams to increase their capacities, and this research affirms that quality of care will remain high – putting to rest the questions some stakeholders have raised when state legislatures consider updates to PA practice laws.”

According to a 2023 survey from The Harris Poll, 91% of U.S. adults agree PA practice laws should be updated to allow states and healthcare systems to fully utilize their healthcare workforce.

JMR recently announced “Medical Malpractice Payment Reports of Physician Assistants/Associates Related to State Practice Laws and Regulation” has received the JMR Award for Distinguished Scholarship presented in recognition of an outstanding objective, scholarly contribution to JMR.

JMR is a peer-reviewed, editorially independent journal published by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).


Media Contact: Jenni Roberson, 703.380.2764

About the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA)
AAPA is the national membership organization for all physician associates/physician assistants (PAs). PAs are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice. PA was named one of the best jobs overall and one of the best healthcare jobs for the seventh year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more about the profession at and engage through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.