Medical Assistants from a Medicolegal Perspective

C. Matthew Smith, Esq., and Douglas W. Lundy, MD, MBA

The economic pressures of modern medical practice often make it desirable to employ various physician “extenders” who can assist physicians in dealing with their many patients. However, along with the economic and logistical upsides can come significant liability risks that must be managed.

Medical assistants (MAs) pose a particular risk because although they are frequently the “link” between patient and physician, they have the least medical training and knowledge. Physicians can get themselves into trouble by relying too heavily on MAs, conferring an inappropriate amount of trust and responsibility on them, and not training them appropriately regarding the limitations of their duties. The following examples show the risk of relying too heavily on MAs.

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