The duties of a medical assistant vary from office to office, but typically include maintaining patient records, scheduling patient appointments, completing insurance forms, submitting lab requisitions and handling billing information. Medical assistants handle sensitive patient information and have an obligation to protect both the physician’s reputation and the patients’ rights.
Avoiding Administrative Mistakes
Professional behavior in a medical workplace means taking the time to ensure you do your job accurately and properly. Medical assistants are sometimes required to measure and record vital signs, operate diagnostic equipment, and process insurance claims. Ensuring accuracy requires strong attention to detail. Mistakes in any of these areas might result in delayed diagnoses, miscommunication or financial hardship for the patient waiting for insurance claims to be processed.
Medical assistants are sometimes required to escort patients to examination rooms or other departments. Maintaining a clinical but friendly attitude helps the patient feel comfortable and well cared for. If a medical assistant is being loud or inattentive, or the patient feels like she's being rushed, the patient might become frightened and anxious. It is important to remain calm and attentive to the patient's needs, to listen carefully to the patient's concerns, and to assure the patient that she is in good hands.
Protecting Patient Information
Medical assistants have access to sensitive and confidential health care and financial information about patients. It is their responsibility to ensure the privacy of the patient is protected and that information remains confidential. If there is any suggestion that a medical office assistant is sharing confidential information, the entire medical practice is at risk. If patients feel that their private information is being compromised or that they’re not being taken seriously, they will likely find another doctor and might even file a complaint with local and state medical authorities.
Avoiding Legal Action
If a patient is harmed by medical advice given by a medical assistant she has a right to sue. To prevent this, it’s important for medical assistants to refer any questions to the physician or attending nurse. Even something as simple as suggesting cold medications could have a negative impact on the patient, causing legal action.
Lisa Theriault has been writing for 20 years and has written for both national and provincial publications including "Canadian Gardening," "What's Up Kids?" "Family Magazine," "Lifestyle Nova Scotia" and "Commerce Magazine." Her short stories have appeared both online and in print.