Scope-of-practice fair play: Let paralegals practice law

LETTER — Posted April 19, 2004

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It now seems that more and more individuals are trying to practice medicine without going to medical school.

I guess one can't blame them. The cost of obtaining a medical degree is prohibitive, and the time invested is immense.

So by getting legislative authority, you can gradually practice more and more with far less investment of time and money. Here in Colorado it appears that certified nurse anesthetists will be able to practice without physician supervision.

Elsewhere, lay midwives are attempting to receive reimbursement from Medicaid. Examples are never- ending. The bottom line, though, is that the physician becomes ultimately responsible and legally liable when something goes wrong.

Let's stop reacting! When legislation is introduced to further broaden the scope of these practitioners, medicine should see that legislation to allow paralegal practitioners similar authority is also introduced.

It's interesting to me how lawyers have held these professionals so tightly in check for all these year. Obviously, there are underserved areas and locations where people can't afford lawyers. We should help them out.

Paul B. Jones, MD, Grand Junction, Colo.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/04/19/edlt0419.htm.

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