Thursday, August 31, 2006

Medical Assistant's Scope of Practice

I am sure everybody who reads this can relate to the concerns and questions medical assistants have, and the confusion that revolves around the medical assistant's scope of practice.

Not only are medical assistants confused, so are their employers, managers, and supervisors. They, too are not always 100% sure about what tasks can be assigned to the medical assistant without asking them to go beyond and above their scope of practice. Post after post in our medical assistant web forum proves this.

What's The Problem?
Medical assistants who don't know or disregard established professional standards and attempt to perform procedures or tasks beyond their training, capabilities, or scope of practice are in danger of exposing themselves, supervisors, and the medical office all together to serious consequences and possible liability issues.

What's the Consequence?
This is where most medical office supervisors immediately resort to drastic measures. The medical assistant is immediately suspended and dismissed without any further counseling or second chances. The fear of damaging their doctor's or medical office's reputation and the consequences of a malpractice law suit is overwhelming. Where so much is at stake, there just rarely are second chances given, especially when it comes to new staff members where trust has not yet been established.

Whose Responsibility Is It?
It must be said that when transgressions and disregards of what a medical assistant can and cannot do happen, it is not always the medical assistant's fault alone. EVERYBODY in the medical office must be sure they know their state's rules and regulations regarding the medical assistant's scope of practice. It is a shared responsibility shared among many that starts with the medical assistant's instructors, supervising physicians and health care practitioners, and office managers to know, and clearly delineate and communicate the medical assistant's role and responsibilities. And the buck does not stop there! Every working medical assistant must make it their own responsibility to know what the the rules are in their state.

For example, medical assistants are not allowed to make independent medical assessments (triage) or give medical advice at any time under any circumstances. Also many states mandate that anybody performing phlebotomy, ultrasound procedures, EKGs, or X-rays must have a specific licence to do so.

Medical assistants who draw blood in California and those who perform point of care testing in Georgia are also required to be certified. The latest issue and debates revolve around medical assistants starting and disconnecting IV lines or administering phototherapy in an UV booth to patients. Recently an unsuspecting medical assistant was reprimanded and suspended on the spot because of this confusion.

Last But Not Least a Tip:
Every working medical assistant and staff member in the medical office who is providing direct and indirect patient cares should make sure they have adequate malpractice and professional liability insurance coverage, because each one is responsible for his/her own negligent acts, since malpractice is defined as "the negligent act of a person with specialized training and education."

To learn more about educational requirements, and practical tips for handling emergencies, and proper documentation visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web. There is lots of additional "scope of practice for medical assistants" info at that web site.


Anonymous said...

I found this job posting on the Craigs List website and I was wondering if these requirements are within the Medical Assistants scope of practice? I thought that you had to be an LVN or RN to do this.

Responsibilities include first aid treatment, emergency triage, accident reports, case management, urine drug screens and reporting. Some data entry. ACLS Certification required. Occupational experience preferred.

Thank you for any responding.

Thank you for any responses.

medical assistant certification said...

can you recommend me any books to set me on the rite track to become a medial assistant? Also do all medical assistants need to be certified? or does it just help to get the job.