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Legal Memorandum: Physician's General Power to Delegate in NY

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 New York?

Area of Law: Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Law Compliance
Keywords: Removal of rectal catheter; Unlicensed medical equipment technician; Delegation
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: N.Y. Educ. Law § 6530(25)
Date: 01/01/2007

New York laws governing health care practitioners neither expressly prohibit nor allow the removal of a rectal catheter by an unlicensed person.  However, a physician’s general power to delegate professional responsibilities is recognized inferentially, if not expressly, by statute and should allow the practice under consideration.

It is an act of professional misconduct for a physician, or physician assistant, to delegate professional responsibilities to a person when he or she “knows or has reason to know that such person is not qualified by training, by experience, or by licensure to perform them.”  N.Y. Educ. Law § 6530(25) (2006).  Therefore, it should be proper for a physician to delegate the catheter removal to the technician so long as the physician knows that the technician is qualified by experience and/or training to perform that act.

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