Medical Office Pharmacology: Review For Medical Assistant Students and Professionals
For medical assistants who need to brush up on certain areas in pharmacology as it applies to a medical office.
More and more law firms are specializing in representing individuals who have been injured by exposure to toxic and other dangerous substances, hazardous waste, pharmaceutical drugs, medical products and devices. Injured parties hire highly specialized and motivated attorneys to assist them in recovering money for their damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages where appropriate.
The Law and Tort or Negligence:
Tort or negligence law imposes a minimum level of due care on all persons in their interactions with others, including people who choose to volunteer. Negligence is generally considered to be doing something that a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under similar circumstances.
Therefore, one of the most important employment benefits is good malpractice and professional liability insurance. Every medical assistant should be encouraged to make sure that they have not only adequate training but also adequate insurance coverage when working in a medical office, walk in clinic, or any other treatment facility.
Even though medical assistants are dependent practitioners and work under the supervision of the physician, and the physician is responsible for their actions, it does not exonerate them from risk of individual liability. It is not enough to accept insurance under the employer’s policy as a rider, and assume this is adequate protection in case of a lawsuit. Medical assistants should insist on their own personal policy, either through their employer or on their own.
The reason is simple: Each healthcare provider, practitioner, nursing staff member and similarly trained professional is responsible for his or her own negligent acts, since malpractice is defined as "the negligent act of a person with specialized training and education."
This is not to say, that medical assistants act irresponsible, doing rush jobs, and act incompetently while at work. Medical assistants do everything they can and strive to deliver quality services and care to the patients. Sadly, mistakes, accidents, oversights, and slip-ups can happen even to the very best, no matter how skilled and careful they perform their duty. They usually occur when least expected and inadvertently may cause harm to a patient!
It Is Not True That Medical Assistants Are Not Being Sued!
Respondeat superior is a legal term that stands for "let the master answer". It is a long established doctrine that applies when a master acts through the servant to accomplish the master's task. What this is referring to is the fact that, under specific circumstances, an employer (or master) is legally liable for the actions of his or her employees (servants) while in the course of their employment. The actions of the servant are imputed to the master.
Requirements For A Successful Suit In Negligence Include:
1. A duty requiring a person to conform to a standard of conduct that protects others from
unreasonable risk of harm.
2. A breach of that duty (i.e., the person's failure to conform to the standard of conduct.)
3. A causal connection between the breach of the duty and the resulting injury.
4. A resulting injury or damage which results in measurable physical, emotional or economic harm.
Having Malpractice and Liability Insurance:
Regardless whether a medical assistant is covered under the employer’s policy, he or she may still be liable for his or her own negligence and may be responsible for all or part of a plaintiff’s award or settlement. In some cases the employee (the medical assistant) may have to compensate the employer (the doctor) who has paid damages to the claimant.
A medical assistant can either assume that liability him or herself or buy an insurance policy to transfer that risk. Insurance companies accept the transfer of risk in exchange for the payment of premiums.
Therefore, whether as a student on externship, or as a professional medical assistant working under a physician, or on your own, get your own malpractice and professional liability insurance as soon as possible! It is really worth the cost and effort, and apropos cost, it doesn't cost much at all!
Analyzing Your Employer’s Policy:
How much you pay for your insurance premium depends on your responsibilities, the location of your practice setting and the limits of liability you choose. If your employer insists that you are to be covered under their policy (rider) and you can't afford to purchase your own personal policy, ask the employer for a copy of the certificate of insurance for your analysis. Here is a checklist of items to use when analyzing your employer’s policy:
1. Are you listed by name on your employer’s policy?
2. Are legal costs included in the limits of liability, or will they be paid in addition to policy limits?
3. If a malpractice claim is filed against you, will this professional liability policy pay legal fees and court costs in addition to your policy limit, even if you are not liable for the charges brought against you?
4. If you decide to change employers and are covered under a claims-made policy, will your former employer be responsible for paying the cost of the tail coverage?
5. Is this policy available in all 50 states?
If you answered NO to any of these questions, investigate purchasing your own individual policy through one of the many malpractice and professional liability programs available.
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