Saturday, May 28, 2011

Avoiding Hidden Pitfalls when Delegating Tasks to Medical Assistants

With the increased need to hire medical assistants due to the rough economy and inflation also come certain pitfalls when physicians train their medical assistants on the job to delegate medical tasks and advanced health care procedures that were formerly performed by higher paid licensed nursing and allied health professionals.

With the economy down, all costs and prices increasing everywhere, and energy prices through the roof it also affects the cost of running and maintaining a medical office. Practicing physicians try to lessen the impact of the current inflation on their medical office operational cost by turning toward hiring unlicensed staff, e.g., lesser paid medical assistants or technicians, to delegate responsibilities which historically have been performed by higher-salaried nurses and mid-level providers. While this literally spurs the hiring of more medical assistants it also means that measures must be taken to avoid certain liability issues for the physician and medical assistant alike.

Medical assistants receive on-the-job training to perform administrative and clinical duties, such as patient care and medical tasks and are expected to handle advanced services such as injections, calling-in prescriptions, removing sutures and on-site laboratory screening tests. This trend of hiring medical assistants  to replace nursing staff for less pay is likely to continue as long as inflation and people seeking jobs everywhere remains high.

When a medical assistant receives on-the-job training to perform a medical task, it is good practice that the supervising physician includes a record and description of the training in the personnel file, which should also include clinical skills checklists.

Each item on the checklist should be checked off only after observing the medical assistant perform the task appropriately. Furthermore, the medical assistant's personnel file should include a written job description defining his/her scope of practice and limits of duties.

Then, the specific skills should be periodically revisited, reviewed and reevaluated by to avoid deterioration of this knowledge and prevent errors from seeping in over time. It is equally important to appropriately supervise medical assistants when they perform any kind of hands-on patient care, on site screening tests, call in prescriptions, or administer medications.

The best way to prevent liability issues for doctors who hire and train medical assistants, and medical assistants under their employ is to stay well informed and abreast with current trends.

For more information about training medical assistant students, duties, specialties, certifications and pay visit the Certified Medical Assistant website. This website addresses typical training requirements, challenges, hidden pitfalls, job market trends, future outlook and pay for medical assistants in the USA.

While the above referenced website provides unmatched information for medical assistants not found anywhere else on the Web it cannot answer all questions that may arise. Therefore, another great resource is the State Medical Board/Board of Medical Examiners which regulates the medical profession in each state and the Board of Nursing.

Learn more about medical assistants at Medical Assistant NET on the Web.

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