Med-X Medical Assistant Q&As

October 7, 2021 3:54 PM

Med-X Medical Assistant Q&As

Medical Assistant Frequently Asked Questions

These are just a few of the questions we receive about how medical assistants (MA) integrate into a healthcare setting. The information we provide is based on years of experience working with state, local, and national MA groups. Before assigning tasks to a medical assistant that may be outside their scope of practice, we recommend consulting with your legal counsel and malpractice carrier.

Q: Does the State of Oregon allow Medical Assistants to scrub in on a surgery?

A: The Oregon Medical Practice laws neither expressly forbids nor authorizes physicians to delegate to medical assistants tasks that are not part of a MAs' scope of practice. Therefore, a physician can teach a medical assistant many tasks, provided they aren't practicing nursing or medicine. However, Oregon law states that surgical technologists may only perform certain operating room functions. Before teaching any medical assistant a task outside their scope of practice, you should check with the clinic's malpractice carrier to ensure the MA is covered performing that task.  

The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) does have a legal opinion about the scope of practice, which can be found here.

Q: Does Oregon allow MAs to swab for COVID-19 tests? Do they need to be supervised, or can they do this independently with adequate training from licensed personnel? 

A: The Oregon Health Authority has used MAs to do COVID screening and vaccinations, and so have other Oregon employers. However, to fully explore COVID-19 testing and supervision legalities, you should read Oregon's regulations on the use of unlicensed healthcare personnel, which you can find on the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) website

Q: Is there a medical assistant student scope of practice during their externship?

A: Oregon law doesn't put specific limits on the tasks student MAs can perform during an externship or practicum. However, here are two guidelines you can use:

  1.  Externing medical assisting students may only perform tasks for which they are competent. The accreditation standards of the two medical assisting accrediting bodies state that students must be checked off on their knowledge and skills on specific tasks before they begin the externship. With that in mind, the program director should inform the externship/practicum site of the capabilities the student has successfully completed.
  2. There are limits on the scope of practice for all medical assistants — whether students are seasoned professionals.
  1. Medical assistants cannot perform tasks that constitute the practice of medicine or require the skill and knowledge of physicians or other licensed providers.
  2. Medical assistants cannot perform tasks that are restricted in state law to other health professionals. 
  3. Medical assistants cannot perform tasks requiring independent clinical judgment or make clinical assessments, evaluations, or interpretations.

View All News