Legal Memorandum: Delegation to an Unlicensed Technician in AZ

Issue: Whether an unlicensed medical equipment technician, while in a physician’s office, may remove a rectal catheter from a patient at the request of a licensed physician under the laws of Arizona?

Area of Law: Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Law Compliance
Keywords: Removal of rectal catheter; Unlicensed person; Delegation
Jurisdiction: Arizona
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1421(A)(6), § 32-1601(7), § 32-1601(13)(g), § 32-1601(12)(f), § 32-1601(10)
Date: 01/01/2007

Arizona laws and regulations governing health care practitioners neither expressly prohibit nor allow the removal of a rectal catheter by an unlicensed person.  However, the medical doctor licensing laws specifically do not apply to any person engaged in

[a]ctivities or functions which do not require the exercise of a doctor of medicine’s judgment for their performance, are not in violation of the laws of [Arizona], and are usually or customarily delegated to such persons by a doctor of medicine under the doctor’s direction or supervision.


Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1421(A)(6) (2006).  Thus, the practice under discussion is arguably recognized as not constituting the practice of medicine and is subject to delegation by a licensed physician.  This conclusion is bolstered by provisions regarding delegation of tasks by licensed nurses.

For purposes of the nursing licensing and practice laws “delegation” is defined as “transferring to a competent individual the authority to perform a selected nursing task in a designated situation in which the nurse making the delegation retains accountability for the delegation.”  Id. § 32-1601(7).  “Professional nursing” includes “delegating nursing interventions to others who are qualified to do so.”  Id. § 32-1601(13)(g).  Similarly, “practical nursing” includes “delegating nursing activities within the scope of practice of a practical nurse” when the delegation occurs under the supervision of a physician or RN.  Id. § 32-1601(12)(f).  Note too that the definition of a “nursing assistant” expressly excludes “volunteers to provide nursing assistant services without monetary compensation.”  Id. § 32-1601(10).  Taken as a […]

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