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Georgia Supreme Court Signals Vicarious Liability for Advanced Practice Providers

The Georgia Supreme Court has signaled that it is likely to rule that physicians are vicariously liable for advanced practice providers in their employ. In Zeh v. Maso, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a physician is not individually vicariously liable for the acts of an advanced practice provider because the physician assistant enabling statute did not include vicarious liability. The plaintiff then petitioned for certiorari.

The Georgia Supreme Court denied certiorari but two justices (Pinson and Warren) wrote a special concurrence, indicating that “[t]here is a reasonable argument that a physician who delegates medical tasks to a physician assistant . . . is vicariously liable.” Justice Pinson then wrote that the physician can be vicariously liable under usual principal-agency law. Justice Pinson and Warren concurred in the denial because the issue was not before them on appeal due to the way the arguments were structured.

Take-home: this is a big deal for physicians who use advanced practice providers. It could have implications for coverage as well as expanding individual liability.

The case is Maso v. Zeh, __ S.E.2d __, 2023 WL 7308552 (Nov. 7, 2023).