Vol. 24 Annals of Health Law 300
fined $50 and his employer $200.131 A jury empanelled before a justice of
the Peace Court found both parties guilty, reasoning that the surgeon had
sufficient time to call another physician to assist him, but did not try to do
so.132 The jury was to consider the evidence of custom and usage of the
medical practice in California as the prosecutor had presented.133
The Whittaker judgment was successfully appealed in large part due to
its importance as a test of the right of a physician or surgeon to use an assistant under conditions not constituting a medical emergency.134 The case was
significant for its allowance of prevailing “custom and usage of the medical
practice” in the state to determine the propriety of a physician’s delegation
and supervision of patently medical, but essentially mechanical, func-
During the case Dr. Eugene Stead, the founder of the PA program at
Duke University, served as an expert witness.136 Stead testified that Whittaker provided a much-needed medical service and supported the concept
that the physician should have clear legal authority to delegate medical
tasks to appropriately trained assistants.137 Whittaker would eventually become a PA, graduating from Duke’s program.138
Delegation within the physician-PA team is facilitated by the educational design of PA programs.139 Because PAs and physicians train using similar curriculum, training sites, faculties, and facilities, physicians, and PAs
develop a similarity in medical reasoning that leads to standardized thought
in the clinical workplace.140
C. Determinant 3: Facility Credentialing and Privileging
Credentialing and privileging are the processes used by licensed
healthcare facilities to authorize licensed PAs, physicians, and others to
practice in the institution.141 Credentialing is the process used to evaluate
the qualifications and practice history of an applicant for medical staff
privileges.142 The intent of credentialing is to safeguard the public and the
132. HOOKER ET AL., supra note 89, at 433.
137. See id.
138. See id. See also Carter et al., supra note 120, at 48; Condit, supra note 122, at 62.
139. See HOOKER ET AL., supra note 89, at 117-18.
140. George L. White, Jr. et al., Physician Assistants and Mississippi, 35 J. MISS. ST.
MED. ASS’N 353, 355 (1994).
141. See HOOKER ET AL., supra note 89, at 276.
142. Id. at 276-77.