Medical Assistants as Scribes

Recently I received the following first-time question:

Is it illegal for a medical assistant to also function as the physician’s scribe? The office manager told me that a new law states that a medical assistant either can function as a scribe or as a medical assistant, but cannot assume both roles.

I am not aware of any state or federal laws that forbid a medical assistant from also functioning as the physician’s scribe. Medical assistants who have graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES accredited medical assisting program and who hold a current CMA (AAMA) credential should be knowledgeable in scribing for the physician or other provider.

About Donald Balasa

Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA, chief executive officer and legal counsel for the American Association of Medical Assistants, keeps his eye on what is happening in the profession.
This entry was posted in Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, On the Job, Professional Identity, Scope of Practice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Medical Assistants as Scribes

  1. Cathy Thomas, CMA(AAMA) says:

    Thank you for attending to this, Mr. Balasa. The same information is going on at my office also. It never made sense to me and I’ve wondered about this “new state law”.

  2. Kathy says:

    We have been told from our Compliance department that the MA can scribe, however, as stated above the MA cannot function as the scribe and as the MA at the same time. The MA would need to differentiate in the patient’s chart when they are acting as a scribe and cannot complete any clinial duites while scribing, i.e, the MA begins scribing for the physician and the physician then ask the MA to take a blood pressure in the middle of scribing. When the MA has completed scribing for the physician the MA then needs to note in the chart that they have completed scribing and the physician signs off under the MA’s name. The MA can then resume clinical duties. We were told this is per CMS guidelines. The HPI must be documented by the provider directly or be entered by a scribe per provider instruction in real time not after the fact.

  3. Jessica says:

    For nearly 5 years I scribed for an ophthalmologist. I both roomed and scribed. I also performed any screening tests needed. This was standard for that department for many years even before I worked there. For the past 7 months I’ve been in a pilot scribing position in family practice. I don’t typically room and scribe on the same patient because I wouldn’t have time. I do occasionally give injections though. I think a big plus to having a scribe is being able to utilize them when the nurse or rooming CMA is unavailable. So far this law hasn’t come up or been an issue during my career and hopefully it doesn’t become one.

  4. Barbara Kalfin says:

    Last week I was at my GI Physician’s office. The MA took my vitals, entered it into the lap top as a Scribe, and left the room. She did both functions at the same time. The Physician came in after that with another person, a PA, not the MA, reviewing the information on the lap top and entered more information as the examination took place.

  5. Amy Myers, SC says:

    My title is MA for an orthopedic specialist. I scribe in the HPI portion of the chart while in the room with the doctor. My role is beneficial to the doctor because at the end of the day, when he goes to do his dictations, everything that I typed in the HPI helps him recall which patient it was… While I’m in the room with him, if he recommends an MRI/physical therapy/medication or some other treatment, I go ahead and order those for him. I also assist with rooming patients, when time permits. I prepare injections, give the patient instructions, book surgeries, put casts on, and everything else the other medical assistant does. But, primarily I scribe. I have never heard about a law stating I couldn’t do both.

  6. Ronda Miller says:

    I am interested in taking the AAMA certification exam

  7. Cathy Marquett says:

    I have already taken the AAMA exam 3 times and the instructor did not teach us everything that we needed to know for the exam. So now what should I do? I paid all of that money to go to school and was not able to pass the exam.

    • Barbara Kalfin says:

      Cathy: If you graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES Program, you should have have been prepared to take the exam. Not everyone passes it. As a CAAHEP Program, we have to follow the Standards & Guidelines and Policy & Procedure Manuals along with the Core Curriculum that must be taught to the students. All this can be found on the MAERB website. I believe you can only take the CMA(AAMA) exam 3 times. You might have to look elsewhere for a CMA Certification, but it won’t be CMA(AAMA). I have had students from other schools (private proprietary), tell me similar stories, and they come into our program and start all over. Certification is extremely important. Check out Donald Balalsa, Attorney for AAMA. Good luck.

  8. Cathern Hogan says:

    What about a registered medical assistant? Can I work in a different state and move there or do they need to get in touch with the state first? I want to move to Florida what I need to get in touch with that state first?

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