Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Proper Supervision of Medical Assistants: Doctors Take Massive Risks

Little oversights, simple miscommunication, unintended slip-ups, distractions and kind favors can lead to serious consequences and repercussions for each individual medical assistant, the doctor under whom they work, the patient and everybody else involved.

Medical Assistant Charged with 10 Felonies and Unlawful Practice

A medical assistant was arrested in 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada for administering Botox treatments in her role while under the direction of a doctor. She was under the impression that she was simply doing what all medical assistants do and it never crossed her mind that she may be practicing outside her scope of practice as legislated by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. Nevada law prohibits medical assistants from administering any kind of medications, this includes giving injections. While the restriction had largely gone unenforced it wasn't until this medical assistant's arrest on 10 felony counts on allegations of "unlawful practice of medicine" received media attention. The unsuspecting medical assistant's whole world came to a crashing halt when she was charged.

Betty Guerra’s nightmare is over. On October 14th the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the 45-year-old former medical assistant learned from her attorney that the 10 felony counts against her on allegations of “unlawful practice of medicine” will be dismissed. The State Medical board reversed its position, determining that state law allows medical assistants to administer everything from flu shots to Botox as long as they are under the “direct supervision” of a physician; meaning the doctor is on the premises.

Doctors Taking Massive Risks

Another medical assistant was fired in 2011 in Fort Collins, Colorado after inadvertently putting young children in harms way. She only administered half the amount of a pre-measured children's influenza vaccine to children in the pediatrics office. Assuming it was an adult dosage in the vial, she simply withdrew half the amount of the vial into the syringe and administered it, hence each child recieved only half the required dosage. In addition, after drawing up the vaccine from the vial the assistant removed the needle from the syringe and replaced it with a sterile needle, but not a new syringe, potentially exposing each child to bloodborne pathogenes and serious infections by reusing the syringe.

Safety Guidelines in the Administration of Medications

Medical assistants must never be tempted to do, or say, more than they should and never attempt procedures that they weren't adequately trained and properly supervised to do. They should administer only those medications for which the physician has written and signed the order and must always check with the ordering doctor when in doubt about any medication dosage. When dispensing medications, they must carefully check to make sure that everything on the medication order corresponds exactly with the label on the package or container and medications that are not clearly labeled should never be used, or put back into the medicine closet.

You might ask: "What are the 5 Rs?"

To learn more about the medical assisting career please visit Medical Assistant NET on the Web. 

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