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Bill Could Allow Medical Assistants More Freedom

A California bill that would allow medical assistants to perform certain medical tasks without the direct supervision of a doctor was approved by the Senate Committee on Business and Professions last week. The proposed law would not change the scope of what MAs can do, but would allow them to perform them under the supervision of registered nurses and physician assistants. As of now, without a doctor around, work must only be clerical in nature.

“This isn’t changing scope of practice,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, who authored the bill. “This bill simply expands the settings for what they’re already allowed to do.” According to Pavley there are 82,000 medical assistants in California, a number that will increase as the demand for services increases. “Those medical assistants need to assist, not just do paperwork,” she said.

There is some concern that the shifting of responsibilities could affect patient care. For example, does this distance doctors from patients, or will the proposed supervision duties take away from RN’s and physician assistants’ ability to function? While the bill may be modified to address these issues, in the end it’s about better resource allocation, says Pavley. “Letting medical assistants help in the ways they’re trained to help just can’t be a bad idea,” she said.

The bill passed the business and professions committee on a 9-1 vote and now heads to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Source: California Healthline