It is very important for a Medical Assistant to internalize and realize the boundaries they need to respect in their scope of practice. This lesson is the third of four lessons from the project, "The Absolute "YES" and "NO" in caring for patients". This lesson aims to help Medical Assistant students in California to be clear about what they can and cannot do in order to bring their Physician's practice into compliance with California Medical Board law.
The Medical Assistant's (MA) scope of practice can be defined as a range of activities that they may or may not perform based on the law.
California law defines a medical assistant as "a person who may be unlicensed, who performs basic administrative, clerical and technical supportive services in compliance with this section...for a licensed physician and surgeon or a licensed podiatrist, or group thereof, for a medical or podiatry corporation, for a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, or a nurse-midwife...or for a health care services plan, who is at least 18 years of age, and who has had at least the minimum amount of hours of appropriate training pursuant to standards established by the Division of Licensing. Also, specifically, medical assistants are prohibited from independently performing telephone triage and advice" (Source: California Business and Professions Code, Section 2069 b).
The MA's tasks are delegated by the physician, this makes that physician responsible for the MA's actions. In applied medical legal terms, this is called "respondeat superior", meaning, “let the master answer." Although, it is the MA's employer/supervisor's responsibility to monitor and ensure that they are practicing within the standard of care, MA should be aware of federal and state health care legislation and regulations that apply to MA's scope of practice. This is for the MA's protection, as well as for the protection of patients and the medical practice itself. For example, if a medical assistant negligently or incompetently advises a patient, and the patient suffers an injury because they relied on the advice, the medical assistant and his employer could be sued.
In this lesson, students will explore three main categories of critical thinking methods: