What Is My Scope of Employment?

All medical assistants, regardless of their amount of education, training, experience and credentials must realize that they are subject to certain laws and limitations and must act only within their scope of employment when practicing their trade.

An act within the scope of employment is incidental to the employer’s business, or in this case, the doctor’s medical practice and is done to further the doctor’s interest. If a medical assistant departs so far from his/her duties that his/her acts are no longer for his employer’s benefit, then these acts are not within the scope of his/her employment. If a tortuous act by the medical assistant arose out of an activity which was within his/her scope of employment, or ordinary course of business, then that act may be considered to be within the scope of employment.

Medical assistants must adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Some states require that medical assistants who draw blood must be certified, to have a special license from their state to expose patients to X-rays, or have  special training before they can  legally administer certain types of needle injections such as vaccinations, allergy testing, PPD/Mantoux skin tests, cosmetic fillers and Botox.
Performed under the direct supervision of the doctor, or supervising allied health practitioner a medical assistant can  safely carry out the following tasks:

  • Prepare and file medical records and patient charts
  • Maintain medical records using numeric or alphabetic systems
  • Data collection to be used by licensed healthcare providers
  • Inventory control and ordering supplies
  • Maintain office equipment
  • Manage an account for petty cash
  • Post service charges and payments
  • Gather community resources
  • Prepare and maintain appointment books
  • Sterilize and wrap instruments
  • Prepare the examination room
  • Record body measurements and vital signs
  • Assist with the physical examinations
  • Assist with therapeutic procedures
  • Assist in the handling of equipment in preparation for procedures
  • Collect specimens (blood, urine, sputum, wound scrapings, throat cultures, etc.)
  • Preserve specimen cultures
  • Perform simple STAT laboratory tests on collected specimens
  • Accept telephone calls and relay patient’s requests and questions
  • Provide health maintenance education not related to a specific diagnosis
  • Patient teaching, e.g. demonstrate how to use an inhaler
  • Provide patient education to supplement the doctor’s orders
  • Compose dictated or pre formatted business correspondence
  • Transcribe dictated documents
  • Respond to medical office emergencies according to established facility protocol
  • Provide basic first aid

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