Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Are Georgia Physicians Liable for the Medical Malpractice of Physician Assistants?

Are Georgia Physicians Liable for the Medical Malpractice of Physician Assistants?


In Georgia personal injury law there is a concept known as vicarious liability. Essentially, a principal is liable for the wrongful acts committed by their agents. To give a classic example, let’s say a business employs a driver to make deliveries in a company-owned vehicle. While making a delivery, the driver runs a red light and collides with another vehicle in the intersection. The injured occupants of that other vehicle could sue the employer for damages. In this context, the employer is vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee.

Ga. Supreme Court Rejects Vicarious Liability Claim Against Anesthesiologist

But what about a case involving medical malpractice? Certainly, a hospital that employs a physician is vicariously liable for the professional negligence of that employee. Yet there are other legal relationships among healthcare professionals where vicarious liability remains an unsettled legal question.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed this subject. The court declined to hear an appeal of a medical malpractice case, Maso v. Zeh, where the plaintiff sought to hold a physician vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of a physician assistant. But some of the justices left the door open to hearing a similar appeal in the future.

The plaintiff in this case is the widow of a man who died after undergoing a medical procedure. Specifically, the widow’s lawsuit alleged that negligence by an anesthesiologist and a physician assistant during the procedure caused her husband’s death. Her subsequent medical malpractice lawsuit named a number of defendants, including the two providers and their employer.

Before the trial court, the parties disputed whether the anesthesiologist could be held vicariously liable for the physician assistant’s alleged medical malpractice under Georgia’s Physician Assistant Act (PAA). The trial judge concluded the law did allow for such a claim. The Georgia Court of Appeals subsequently reversed that decision.

The Court of Appeals concluded that nothing in the text of the PAA created or imposed any new form of vicarious liability on physicians for the conduct of physician assistants. The Georgia Supreme Court declined to review that ruling. But Justice Andrew Pinson wrote separately to observe that a “reasonable argument” could be made that a “physician who delegates medical tasks to a physician assistant” under the PAA could be found vicariously liable in certain circumstances. The problem here was that the plaintiff failed to allege or establish there actually was a principal-agent relationship between the anesthesiologist and the physician assistant in this particular case. So Pinson said he was open to reconsider the Court of Appeals’ conclusions on vicarious liability “in an appropriate case” in the future.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Medical malpractice cases often raise a number of complex legal and factual questions. That is why it is important to work with an experienced Johns Creek personal injury lawyer who can advise and represent you in pursuing a claim for such professional negligence.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn