In November I described the continuing scope of practice issues that exist for medical assistants in Connecticut. I also detailed my efforts in concert with the Connecticut Society of Medical Assistants (CSMA) to correct these issues and see legislation passed that allows professionally educated and suitably credentialed medical assistants to administer medication under physician supervision.
In response to our letter (the body of which will be available in the upcoming March/April issue of CMA Today), the Connecticut Department of Public Health formed a scope of practice review committee to examine the request. The committee consisted of representatives from a number of organizations—not just the AAMA and CSMA, but the Connecticut Hospital Association, the Connecticut State Medical Society, and the Connecticut Association of Optometrists, among others. All information provided in the scope of practice request was reviewed by the committee, after which a report was issued. While this report makes no recommendations as to potential legislation, there are a number of positives to be taken from it.
First, the report acknowledges the ability and education of medical assistants:
“Literature and other information reviewed and evaluated by the scope of practice review committee demonstrated that certified medical assistants are educated and trained to administer medication under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. Accredited education and training programs that lead to certification as a medical assistant … include coursework and clinical training in pharmacology and medication administration.”
The report goes on to acknowledge that certification programs like those offered by the Certifying Board of the AAMA provide powerful evidence that medical assistants possess the knowledge necessary for medication administration, and that such certification programs could potentially be used as a standard in Connecticut.
In addition, the report also states that allowing medical assistants to administer medication should allow physicians and nurses to see more patients and focus on clinical care, as our letter argues.
The report goes on to confirm that all the information provided by the AAMA and CSMA allowed the committee to thoroughly address any quality and safety risks surrounding this issue. In addition, the report recommends that a number of terms must be clarified in any proposed legislation:
- “Certified medical assistant”
- “Outpatient setting”
- “Direct supervision”
In short, the report discussed necessary steps that should be taken in the event that our recommended legislation is proposed. The report itself is over 15 pages long, but nonetheless includes some very encouraging reports about the progress of our work!
As always, I will keep you informed of any further developments in this matter.