The Medical Assistant's Duties in Emergency Room Care


Medical assistants working in a clinic or emergency room will perform various duties like taking and recording vital signs, obtaining medical histories from patients and explaining the details of various treatments and procedures to patients. The specific duties performed are typically mandated by local jurisdictions. Medical assistants in smaller emergency rooms will likely perform a lot of different tasks. In emergency rooms located in large metropolitan areas handling a large number of patients, medical assistants will typically specialize in a particular area.

Specific Duties

  • In some states, regions and countries, medical assistants may perform some more advanced procedures such as phlebotomy, administering injections or taking x rays. Before any of these advanced procedures are performed, medical assistants are required to take a training course or pass an exam for certification regarding specific procedures. Accrediting organizations offer training and may include internships that provide practical, on-the-job training. Medical assistants serve a vital and necessary function in the hospital emergency room.

Dealing with People

  • Medical assistants spend a great deal of time interfacing with members of the public. Due to the urgent and sometimes stressful environment of the emergency room, medical assistants must continually maintain a courteous, pleasant and helpful demeanor. Patients entering an emergency room are likely to be in just about any frame of mind ranging from frightened to combative. One of the critical duties for medical assistants includes making patients feel comfortable, put them at ease about any procedures and help to explain instructions from a doctor. Medical assistants remain with patients who have received medication and help minimize trauma to patients.

Confidentiality and Trust

  • Another one of the important duties performed by medical assistants includes the gathering, recording and handling of confidential patient medical information. Typically, the medical assistant will greet, assess and interview patients entering the emergency room. Acquiring past surgical information, medical, family and social history while maintaining patient confidentiality remains an essential first step in building trust between doctors and patients.

Other Duties

  • One of the most difficult duties of the emergency room medical assistant includes anticipating the needs of patients as well as the requirements of various doctors. Medical assistants may also file insurance paperwork, file lab slips, fax prescriptions and add information to medical charts. Preparation and assisting with patient examination, monitoring patients during procedures, assisting doctors or other medical staff with certain treatments and procedures also falls under the many duties of a medical assistant serving in an emergency room. As new medical and health care technologies are discovered, the duties of a medical assistant will likely change.

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