In 2014, the total amount in medical malpractice payouts in the United States was $3,891,743,050. 40% of these payouts were in outpatient incidents while 46% were for inpatient cases. The total payment percentage by gender was 53% ($2,076,790,450) for female patients and 45% ($1,752,854,350) for male patients.

According to data from JAMA, in outpatient cases, diagnostic errors made up for roughly 46% of all medical malpractice claims. The numbers in medical malpractice in the United States are high and it seems like they will only be increasing more in the future.

Doctors and hospitals are not the only entities that can be held liable for medical malpractice. All medical professionals have a duty towards patients and when that duty is breached, they can be held liable for injury or harm caused to the patient. Medical assistants are one of the professionals who can be held responsible for any errors or negligence.

There are two legal issues when medical assistants are involved - exceeding the scope of practice and medical liability. If a medical assistant incompetently or negligently gives medical advice to a patient and the patient gets injured as a result of following that advice, it is likely that the medical assistant and the employer will be sued.

A nurse or nurse practitioner will probably not be sued, unless they have supervisory responsibilities. If this is the case, then it is possible that they would be named in the lawsuit. It is the medical assistant's employer or supervisor's duty to monitor the medical assistant and ensure that they are acting within the standard of care.

Scope of Practice

A medical assistant's scope of practice varies from state to state. While scope of practice is clearly stated in some states, others have no laws on the matter. For the most part, a medical assistant can:

  • Measure and record vital signs
  • Convey clinical information on the physician's behalf
  • Obtain wound cultures and change wound dressings
  • Arrange examining room equipment and instruments
  • Remove staples or sutures from superficial lacerations and incisions
  • Perform aseptic procedures like caring for wounds
  • Collect blood specimens via venipuncture and capillary techniques
  • Render first aid and perform CPR in an emergency
  • Provide a single dose of oral medication to a patient as ordered by the physician for immediate self-administration under observation
  • Administer different types of cryotherapy to reduce swelling or pain
  • Operate diagnostic equipment but is not permitted to interpret tests
  • Perform administrative and clinical tasks to ensure that workflow continues if supervised by a doctor or other health care practitioner
  • Filing and bookkeeping

These are just some of the roles a medical assistant can play in a clinic or hospital. This is their scope of practice.

RMFW Law will not Fail You

If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed by a medical assistant, you should immediately seek the help of a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney at Rosenberg, Minc, Falloff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212-344-1000.

We want you to be financially whole again and then some. We can make that happen. You need to call us first though. You have been mistreated; it is time to make the other side pay. Call RMFW Law, we will know how to proceed.


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