Illinois regulation further protects medical assistants

Illinois regulation further protects medical assistants

Balasa, Donald A

FOR MANY YEARS the legality of Illinois medical assistants being delegated the administration of medication (especially by means of injection) has been uncertain. The Illinois Appellate Court decision in People v. Stints (July 18, 1997) compounded the uncertainty. Fortunately, an amendment to the Illinois Medical Practice Act and new regulations issued by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation have greatly clarified the medical assistant’s right to be delegated medication administration.

The Illinois Medical Practice Act was amended by the Illinois General Assembly August 13, 1998. Section 54.5(d) of the Act now reads as follows:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the delegation of tasks or duties by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches to a licensed practical nurse, a registered professional nurse, or other personnel. [Emphasis added.]

Based on this amendment to the Medical Practice Act, the American Association of Medical Assistants and the Illinois Society ofMedical Assistants argued that the additional statutory language permitted Illinois physicians to delegate certain clinical procedures to “other personnel,” which would include medical assistants. It was further asserted that appropriately competent and knowledgeable medical assistants could be delegated medication administration by the supervising physician(s). Quite importantly, since the Illinois legislature amended the Medical Practice Act after the Stults case, the decision in that case was no longer valid law in Illinois.

Reinforcing this statutory amendment was an April 26, 2002 regulation promulgated by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (IDPR). This regulation amplified and interpreted the language of the Medical Practice Act. The following sentence was included in the new regulation:

Nothing in this Section shall be construed to limit the delegation of tasks or duties by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches to a licensed practical nurse, a registered professional nurse, or other personnel including but not limited to certified nurse assistants or medical assistants. [Emphasis added.]

The amendment to the Medical Practice Act and the issuance of the IDPR regulation strengthen considerably the legal standing of medical assistants in Illinois, and will be a powerful rebuttal to any argument against an Illinois physician’s right to delegate the administration of medication-including by means of injection-to qualified medical assistants.

Copyright American Association of Medical Assistants Mar/Apr 2003

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