Medical assistants can only practice methods and procedures in which they were instructed, trained and diligently supervised. Those who disregard established standards and attempt to perform procedures or tasks beyond their training, capabilities, or lawful scope of practice are exposing themselves, the patients, their supervisors and employers to serious consequences.
It is usually the doctor who who is in charge of a medical assistant’s job related activities, however, when a nurse (RN, LPN) delegates a task to a medical assistant in a medical office setting, or group practice, then the nurse must supervise that task, while the doctor is ultimately responsible for the outcome of the medical assistant’s actions. With so much at stake the vast majority of doctors seek experienced medical assistants when they hire. Medical assistants who are certified usually have undergone in-depth training in all areas of their field and therefore are expected to perform at a higher standard of care than those without such special training.
Although allergy testing techniques are quite safe trouble can follow very quickly when it comes to sensitive patients. A medical assistant is not qualified, nor legally permitted, to administer allergy testing without a doctor physically present in the office. There may be offices in the same building with doctors on call, nevertheless, because of the inherent risk of severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis and the remote chance that a patient is given the wrong dose, trying to locate a doctor in the building is NOT sufficient–in an emergency situation this is a recipe for serious consequences. Having the doctor physically present to supervise and intervene is a MUST and the law. Direct supervision requires the physical presence of the supervising doctor in the office before, during, and after the administration of an allergen.
Medical assistants can administer controlled substances ONLY under a physician’s direct order, control and supervision and only where it is not specifically prohibited by state legislation. Direct supervision includes the diagnosis, authorization and evaluation of the patient by a licensed physician or clinician. Any other use is illegal and will be taken very seriously, otherwise there can be SERIOUS consequences for everybody involved.
It has been asked whether a medical assistant can be entrusted with the key to the controlled substances locker. This decision is left up to the discretion of the supervising physician.