SAN ANTONIO – The rate of malpractice cases among physician assistants (PAs) has been slightly increasing, while median payments and reasons for payments remain unchanged, according to research presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).

The study included data from 2005 to 2014, during which there were 3,621 adverse actions and 1,415 malpractice cases among PAs. For physicians, there were 63,634 adverse actions and 108,038 malpractice cases. For nurse practitioners (NPs), there were 1,440 adverse actions and 1,442 malpractice cases. For physicians, the risk of adverse actions and malpractice was 9.9 to 16.6 per 1,000 providers (11%). For PAs, this risk was 1.40 to 2.35 per 1,000 providers (3.3%), and for NPs, it was 1.09 to 1.43 per 1,000 providers (1.3%).

During the course of the study, rates of malpractice declined among physicians, remained steady among NPs, and increased slightly among PAs.

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While median malpractice payments have remained steady for both PAs and NPs, payments have decreased slightly among physicians. The reasons for malpractice payments have remained largely unchanged among PAs, NPs, and physicians.

Overall, PAs and NPs are faced with malpractice suits much less frequently compared with their physician counterparts.


  1. Nicholson J, Brock D, Hooker R. Physician assistant malpractice and liability: How do PAs compare to physicians and NPs? ePoster presented at: 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA); May 14-18, 2016; San Antonio, TX.