Medical assistants have a set range of responsibilities, but there are certain tasks they are not allowed to carry out. If they exceed their bounds and participate in an unauthorized activity — for instance, dispensing medical advice — they could not only cause harm to a patient, but also make the employer liable for damages.
Laws change from state to state, but in general, medical assistants do not:
- Interpret data, make assessments or diagnose symptoms.
- Prescribe medications or refill prescription requests.
- Dispense medication samples.
- Perform triage.
- Operate laser equipment.
- Inject medications, unless permitted by state law.
- Administer or discontinue IVs, unless permitted by state law.
- Administer an anesthetic agent, except topical numbing agents.
- Perform tests that involve the penetration of human tissues, except skin tests and drawing blood.
Some of these activities may be permissible in conjunction with a qualified medical professional. Check your state’s laws and verify your responsibilities with your employer before you begin work as a medical assistant.
To see a list of the tasks medical assistants DO carry out, see our general medical assistant job description.