delegation, On the Job, Scope of Practice

Nasopharyngeal Swabbing for COVID-19 Testing in New York

May medical assistants be delegated nasopharyngeal swabbing to check for COVID-19 in New York? Consider the following excerpt from an executive order issued by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on declaring a state disaster emergency:

I hereby temporarily suspend or modify, from the date of this Executive Order through April 6, 2020,* the following:

Sections 6521 and 6902 of the Education Law, to the extent necessary to permit unlicensed individuals, upon completion of training deemed adequate by the Commissioner of Health, to collect throat or nasopharyngeal swab specimens from individuals suspected of being infected by COVID-19, for purposes of testing; and to the extent necessary to permit non-nursing staff, upon completion of training deemed adequate by the Commissioner of Health, to perform tasks, under the supervision of a nurse, otherwise limited to the scope of practice of a licensed or registered nurse;

*Note: The above executive order has been extended to June 21, 2020, and is subject to further extension by the governor (New York State Education Department).

My legal opinion is that this executive order applies to medical assistants because they are not licensed under New York law.

If your state has similar executive orders or legislation, this New York example can apply to you. Check with the AAMA State Scope of Practice Laws webpage to find key legislative materials for your state.

3 thoughts on “Nasopharyngeal Swabbing for COVID-19 Testing in New York”

  1. What about New Jersey? I have done nasal swabs for flu for years. Why is covid any different?

    1. Thank you for your question. The New Jersey law neither specifically authorizes nor forbids physicians from delegating to knowledgeable and competent medical assistants the collecting of specimens by nasopharyngeal swabbing. Presumably, your delegating physicians/nurse practitioners/physician assistants have in the past obtained an opinion from the NJ Board of Medical Examiners or the NJ Board of Nursing that this task is delegable to medical assistants. If this is the case, there is no restriction on competent medical assistants being delegated the performing of NPhS’ing under direct/onsite licensed provider supervision.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Donald A. Balasa, JD, MBA
      CEO and Legal Counsel

  2. Can you help me? I’ve submitted my CEUs and have been waiting for 3 weeks for them to be added so that I can pay for my certification renewal, but haven’t heard back since the auto reply that confirmed receipt of my emailed CEUs.

    I’m reaching out to you, because I figured you may have some type of inside link to reach out to that department. Please advise. Thank you!

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