Scope of Practice

Multi-State Scope of Practice for Medical Assistants

I recently received an inquiry regarding medical assisting scope of practice laws across the U.S.:

I am a CMA (AAMA) residing in Washington. I am trying to find all the scope of practice laws for my current job. I work for a start-up health care/technology company [that] serves all 50 states. All our physicians are licensed in each state, and we are trying to implement the use of CMAs (AAMA) to better serve our patient load. Would I need to follow each state’s rules, or because the company is in Washington, would I just follow Washington’s rules?

I feel as though Washington [law] is the strictest. [Do you think] any other states seem to be a little stricter?

To find the medical assisting laws of all states, go to the “State Scope of Practice Laws” webpage on the AAMA website

Because medical assistants employed by this company work under the authority of physicians in all states, they are required to abide by the laws of all states.

Washington has more requirements that medical assistants must meet to work as medical assistants than any other state. Further, Washington law requires medical assistants to meet specified requirements for a category of medical assistants and register with the Washington State Department of Health in that category in order to work.

However, some states have more limitations on tasks that medical assistants are permitted to be delegated and to perform.

Two of my Public Affairs articles published in CMA Today, “What Tasks Are Delegable to—and Performable by—Medical Assistants?” part I and part II, contain legal principles generally applicable in all U.S. jurisdictions. Note the following excerpt from the handout that served as the source material for those articles:

7. General legal principles—

• It is not permissible for medical assistants to perform tasks that constitute the practice of medicine, or require the skill and knowledge of physicians or other licensed providers;

• It is not permissible for medical assistants to perform tasks that are restricted in state law to other health professionals—often licensed health professionals;

• It is not permissible for medical assistants to perform tasks that require the exercise of independent clinical judgment, and/or the making of clinical assessments, evaluations, or interpretations;

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