Protecting the Public's Health
As a progressive first step to target and steer one of the fastest growing health occupations, the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners (Board) adopted rules governing the activities of Arizona medical assistants. These rules went into effect on February 2, 2000.
Medical assistants are multiskilled, unlicensed, and nonregistered allied health professionals who perform a wide range of clinical and administrative tasks in health care settings. The use of medical assistants has increased significantly in recent years as the health care delivery system has evolved. This evolutionary process has resulted in the need for training requirements for an individual who assists a physician in providing basic patient services.
The Board adopted rules R4-16-301 through R4-16-303 which establish training requirements and the activities medical assistants are permitted to carry out under the direct supervision of a physician or physician assistant.
By putting specific procedures in rule, the Board provided clear direction for acceptable practices for medical assistants. This also allows the Board to evaluate allegations of medical assistants exceeding their authority in instances of inappropriate supervision by a physician. These rules also enable a physician to use the services of a medical assistant to the maximum effect, without jeopardizing the health and safety of their patients.
The Board believes that these rules will be of significant benefit to both physicians and patients, since the rules establish a clearly defined standard of practice for medical assistants. The procedures in these rules are consistent with medical assistant training programs and serve as a reasonable standard consistent with current and future trends in the practice of medicine.
The exact language of the rule is:
ARTICLE 3. MEDICAL ASSISTANTS
For the purposes of A.R.S. Title 32, Chapter 13 and of this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
"Approved medical assistant training program" means a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), a medical assisting program accredited by any accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, or a training program designed and offered by a licensed allopathic physician, that meets or exceeds any of these 3 accrediting programs, and verifies the entry level competencies of a medical assistant referenced in R4-16-303.
R4-16-302. Medical Assistant Training Requirements
A. The supervising physician or physician assistant shall ensure that a medical assistant satisfies 1 of the following training requirements prior to the medical assistant's employment:
- Completion of an approved medical assistant training program.
- Completion of an unapproved medical assistant training program and passage of the medical assistant examination administered by either the American Association of Medical Assistants or the American Medical Technologists.
B. This rule does not apply to any person who:
- Prior to the effective date of these rules completed an unapproved medical assistant training program and was employed as a medical assistant since completion of the program.
- Prior to the effective date of these rules was directly supervised by the same physician, group of physicians, or physician assistant for at least 2000 hours.
- Completes a medical services training program of the Armed Forces of the United States.
R4-16-303. Authorized Procedures for Medical Assistants
A. A medical assistant may perform, under the direct supervision of a physician or physician assistant, the medical procedures listed in the April 1999, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Program's "Standards and Guidelines for an Accredited Educational Program for the Medical Assistant, Section (2) (A) (5) (a through c)." The address is 35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1970, Chicago, Illinois, 60601. This material is incorporated by reference, does not include any later amendments or editions of the incorporated matter, and is on file with the Office of the Secretary of State.
B. In addition to the medical procedures in subsection (A), a medical assistant may administer the following under the direct supervision of a physician or physician assistant:
1. Whirlpool treatments,
2. Diathermy treatments,
3. Electronic galvation stimulation treatments,
4. Ultrasound therapy,
5. Massage therapy,
6. Traction treatments,
7. Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation unit treatments,
8. Hot and cold packs treatments,
9. Small volume nebulizer treatments.
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