In the current ambulatory care environment, medical assistants are being delegated the preparation of injectable substances, as well as the administration of injections. I often receive questions about legal restrictions on medical assistants preparing injectable substances. In some states, there are specific laws that address this question. In general, it is my legal opinion that, if there is a likelihood of significant harm to a patient if an injectable substance is prepared improperly, the delegating provider must verify the identity and the dosage of the injectable substance before it is administered by the medical assistant.
In 2016 the Massachusetts legislature passed legislation that permits primary care providers to delegate the administration of immunizations to a medical assistant who is the following:
… is a graduate of a post-secondary medical assisting education program accredited by the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation of the American Medical Association, or its successor, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, or its successor or such other certificate program as the commissioner of public health shall approve; (ii) is employed in the medical practice of a licensed primary care provider; and (iii) who performs basic administrative, clerical, and clinical duties upon the specific authorization and under the direct supervision of a licensed primary care provider.
Note the following definitions from the legislation:
Direct supervision: “Oversight of a certified medical assistant exercised by a primary care provider who is present in the facility and immediately available to furnish assistance and direction throughout the course of the performance of a delegated procedure but is not required to be present in the room when the procedure is being performed.”
Primary care provider: “A health care professional qualified to provide general medical care for common health care problems who: (i) supervises, coordinates, prescribes, or otherwise provides or proposes health care services; (ii) initiates referrals for specialist care; and (iii) maintains continuity of care within the scope of practice.”
The legislation directs the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to promulgate regulations regarding the specifics of the delegation of immunizations. The full text of the legislation can be found on the AAMA website, under State Scope of Practice Laws.
I have been receiving an increasing number of questions similar to the following:
Can a CMA (AAMA) work as a pharmacy technician in my state? And, if so, can that CMA (AAMA) administer injections and take blood pressures under the supervision of a pharmacist?
Here is my response:
Thank you for this question. A medical assistant—even a CMA (AAMA)—would have to meet the state law requirements and become a pharmacy technician in order to work in that capacity under the supervision of a pharmacist. Once a CMA (AAMA) is registered by the state as a pharmacy technician, the scope of practice for this individual would be the same as all other pharmacy technicians as specified by the laws of that state.
Information regarding Senate Bill (SB) 110 continues to emerge. Please see the following missive from the Ohio Board of Nursing:
SB 110, passed by the 131st General Assembly, authorizes CTP [Certificate to Prescribe] holders to delegate non-controlled drug administration under specified circumstances to unlicensed persons. Please click on the links below to access the statute and the Legislative Services Commission (LSC) Analysis for further details.
Effective October 15, 2015, APRNs [Advanced Practice Registered Nurses] holding prescriptive authority are authorized to delegate medication administration as specified in Sections 4723.48(C) and 4723.489, Ohio Revised Code (ORC). In doing so, APRNs must comply with standards of safe practice, including delegation, set forth in the law and rules, including Chapter 4723-13, Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). Please be aware that the new authorization in ORC Section 4723.48(C) supersedes rule language currently found in Chapter 4723-13, OAC, with respect to APRN prescribers, which previously limited the types of medication that could be delegated to an unlicensed person.
SB 110 authorizes the Board to adopt rules establishing standards and procedures for APRN delegation. The Board will convene a Board Committee on Practice meeting on January 20, 2016 at noon at the Board office to gather public input regarding the need for administrative rules.