… and medical offices can do to protect themselves. Medical assistants in the USA do not have to be formally trained through an academic or post-secondary adult education institution, nor necessarily be certified to function in an assisting role in a medical office. Under the doctor’s discretion and direct supervision, meaning the doctor is on the premises, anyone can be trained to perform certain administrative and clinical tasks in the front and back office as long as the employer allows it, however, there are occupational limitations and certain skills a medical assistant cannot legally do. A good medical practice and health care facility has researched legal parameters and limitations and established policies outlining each staff member’s responsibilities to protect themselves. Each medical assistant under their employees should receive a written job description and adhere to it.
Generally speaking, when performed under the supervising physician, ophthalmologist, podiatrist, surgeon, or other licensed health care practitioner a medical assistant is allowed to do the following tasks:
The medical assistant’s job comes with certain limits. It is good policy to also instruct each employee verbally about specific duties, while also addressing what they are allowed and NOT allowed to do when performing work related duties. A medical assistant’s responsibilities and limitations are based on the quality and type of education, training and experience of each employee, as well as taking into consideration established local, state and federal laws and regulations, which includes not (!!!) making any medical assessments, independently triaging patients, not dispensing medications, or medication samples without explicit orders, adding, or altering a medical treatment plan or assessment in the medical record, or independently giving any type of medical advice. The responsible medical office manager will assure and demand that these limitations are respected and strictly adhered to. Medical assistants can only practice skills that lie within their scope of practice and training.
The lack of licensure and uniformly spelled out regulations puts the medical assistant in a precarious position, dependent on chance and shrouded in uncertainty. Their role is strictly assistive toward the physician under whom they work, or another licensed practitioner who hired them. While it is true that most doctors are replacing their LPNs and RNs with highly responsible and reliable medical assistants, the medical assistant discipline as such is not recognized as what is understood as a profession, or professional career. As of this date, medical assistants falls into the class of workers in the health care occupations. That’s not how it is in Europe, or some other countries where their training is regulated and mandated by the state with a clearly defined scope of practice.