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The Legal & Ethical Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

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A medical assistant is a qualified professional who assists the doctor (or doctors) in a clinic with both administrative and medical procedures. The responsibilities of a medical assistant can vary, depending on the type and size of organization he works for. Medical assistants are required to follow a rule of ethics, and also a set of legal guidelines, depending on which state they practice in.

Direct Care

Irrespective of which state the medical assistant works in, it is very important to ensure that whenever he provides a patient with direct care or supervision, the practicing physician or healthcare official should be present either in the consulting room or in the building. This applies to every medical assistant practicing in the U.S., no matter what his credentials and experience.

Legal Responsibilities

One of the most important legal responsibilities of a medical assistant is to maintain all the records pertaining to a patient’s health history for insurance purposes. The records should be maintained honestly and verify that any insurance claims are genuine. He should also keep patient confidentiality and respect their privacy. He should always render his best services, lest he be accused of negligence or malpractice.

Ethical Responsibilities

Medical assistants are governed by a rule of ethics set forth by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) not dissimilar to that followed by doctors. Medical assistants swear to render their services to patients with complete respect for their dignity. They also promise to respect the confidentiality of patient records or any other information they are entrusted with, unless they are required to share the same due to legalities.

Respect the Profession

Medical assistants are also required to uphold the high regard with which the medical profession is viewed, and refrain from behaving in a way that would compromise it. They are expected to constantly improve their own knowledge and skills to help others (i.e, patients) benefit from them, and take part in voluntary activities that help improve the general well-being of the community around them.

Additional Responsibilities

The medical assistant is required to treat all patients similarly, irrespective of their age, sex, background or financial status. He should not discriminate among patients for any reason whatsoever. There is information that he is legally required to report to authorities; these are the only cases in which confidentiality rules do not apply: births and deaths, injuries caused by abuse or similar violence, illegal drug abuse, and occurrence of communicable or sexually transmitted diseases.


Frank Howard has been a professional writer for more than 20 years, working with Metro Publications and Penguin Group. He is now part of the Metro Publications creative team, where he creates fictional stories for kids. Howard has a master's degree in creative writing from City University London and bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Leeds.

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