Medical Practice Acts and Medical Assistant's Role

Each state has medical practice acts that regulate the practice of medicine with the intent of protecting its citizens from harm. These statutes, or laws, govern licensure, standards of care, professional liability and negligence, confidentiality, and torts. Some states also regulate personnel who may be employed in the ambulatory care setting. For example, some states require that medical assistants be licensed or certified to be able to perform any invasive procedures. Other states require additional training in radiology for the medical assistant to be able to take X-rays. Further, some states are so strict in their regulations that medical assistants perform mostly clerical functions. Certainly, medical assistants desiring to utilize their skills must be aware of state regulations and always perform only within the scope of those regulations.

The Patient's Bill of Rights was developed by the American Hospital Association in 1973 to establish more effective patient care and greater satisfaction for patient, physician, and hospital. While this Bill of Rights was written with the hospital patient in mind, patients in ambulatory care settings should be accorded the same rights. Although no list of rights can guarantee the kind of treatment patients have a right to expect, medical assistants should make every effort to conduct activities with the concern of the patient in mind. here are a number of ways in which the law governs physicians and their employees. Some of these issues are particularly pertinent to the ambulatory care setting and the medical assistants who work in these health care environments.


a) The patient has the right to considerate and respectful care.
b) The patient has the right to obtain from his physician complete current information concerning his diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis in terms the patient can be reasonably expected to understand.
c) The patient has the right to receive from his physician information necessary to give informed consent prior to the start of any procedure and/or treatment. Except in emergencies, such information for informed consent should include but not necessarily be limited to the specific procedure and/or treatment, the medically significant risks involved, and the probable duration of incapacitation.
d) The patient has the right to refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical consequences of his action.    
e) The patient has the right to every consideration of his privacy concerning his own medical care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment are confidential and should be conducted discreetly. Those not directly involved in his care must have the permission of the patient to be present.    
f) The patient has the right to expect that all communications and records pertaining to his care should be treated as confidential.
g) The patient has the right to examine and receive an explanation of his bill regardless of source of payment.
h) The patient has the right to know what hospital rules and regulations apply to his conduct as a patient.