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Quijano Measure Permitting Physician Assistants to Sign Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Receives Final Passage

Would Mandate Continuing Education Credits for Licensure

In an effort to further empower patients with respect to their healthcare, a bill that would allow physician assistants to sign, modify, or revoke Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms in the same manner as physicians and advanced practice nurses (APNs) passed 74-1 in the full General Assembly on Thursday. The legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union).

The bill (A-2144), the Practitioner Orders For Life-Sustaining Treatment Act, also requires physician assistants to complete two credits of continuing medical education relating to end-of-life care as a condition of continued licensure.

“Granting physician assistants with these privileges strengthens the healthcare delivery process,” said Quijano. “In many instances, patient volume or similar issues prevent a physician or APN from immediately tending to a POST form request. Equipping physician assistants with administrative powers concerning these forms adds another means whereby a patient’s wishes can be acted upon more quickly.”

As defined in the bill, a POLST form is a standardized printed document that is uniquely identifiable and has a uniform color.  It complements an advance directive by converting a person’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment into a medical order. Currently, a POLST form may be created, modified, or revoked by a patient or, if the patient has lost decision-making capacity, the patient’s representative, and must be signed by a physician or APN.  The bill would allow a physician assistant to sign a POLST form as well.

After passage in both houses, the bill now goes to the Governor for consideration.