A recent news report indicated that a physician at a New York hospital allowed a college student to insert a tube down an anesthetized patient’s throat to help the patient breathe, even though the student had no training to perform the procedure. The student, who was considering going to medical school, was “shadowing” the physician. An operating room employee reported the incident to management, but the hospital did nothing about it until state inspectors showed up to investigate a complaint about the event on behalf of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Inspectors categorized the incident as “immediate jeopardy,” the most serious type of deficiency that can cause serious injury or death to patients.
Therefore, when responding to a request to allow a high school or college student shadow you at an office or facility, consider the following:
Considering the above risks, it is recommended that physicians should only permit individuals such as medical, physician assistant or nursing students in an established training program to “shadow” them. These programs should provide documentation of adequate liability insurance for their students. The programs must also delineate in writing those specific tasks which the students have been credentialed to perform. They may perform those credentialed tasks only if the patient’s consent has previously been obtained.