Monday, November 24, 2008

Pain Medications

I work as a Medical Assistant in a Rheumatologist’s office. One-hundred percent of our patients are chronically ill, and are living with constant often debilitating pain.

Confusion About Medical Assistant's Scope of Practice

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

Fact is, not only are medical assistants confused, so are their supervising physicians, licensed health care practitioners, registered nurses, medical office managers. They, too are not always 100% sure of what tasks can be assigned, or delegated to the medical assistant under their employ. Post after post in our medical assistant web forum proves it!!!

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, and possibly their employer, and supervisor to serious consequences, and possible liability issues.

When a medical assistant winds up doing tasks they aren't allowed to do, or act independently without permission, or supervision most medical office supervisors react with very harsh measures. Over the years I have seen and heard stories where medical assistants were immediately suspended and dismissed (fired!) without any further counseling, or second chances.

The fear of damaging the office's reputation and the consequences of a malpractice law suit is overwhelming. Where so much is at stake, there just rarely are any second chances, especially when it comes to new staff members where trust has not even been established yet.

Now, don't get me wrong! Often it is not the medical assistant's own fault, or fault alone. Like I said before, even the medical office managers and clinical supervisors are not always sure what the medical assistant is allowed to do.

They realize that it is important to clearly delineate and communicate the medical assistant's role and responsibilities, however, when looking for answers pertaining to the medical assistant's scope of practice in their state, they often don't know where to turn.

For example, many states mandate that anybody performing phlebotomy, EKG and X-ray must have a specific license to do so, and medical assistants who draw blood in California, and those who perform point of care testing in Georgia are required to be certified in that particular skill first.

In closing I want to remind all medical assistants and their instructors and supervisors to make it their top priority to clearly define and communicate rules and regulations that affect medical assistants and medical office staff to promote a healthy and safe work environment, and success.