Can Medical Assistants Call in Prescriptions & Refills?

Medical assistants are healthcare workers that help out nurses and physicians with a variety of clinical and administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, taking patient vitals, and maintaining accurate patient records.

But you may be wondering: can a medical assistant call in new prescriptions or refills? And in addition, can they prescribe medications?

First of all, it is important to note that medical assistants cannot prescribe medications. It does not fall within their scope of practice.

Depending on the state where they work, medical assistants may or may not be able to call in new prescriptions. If they are allowed to do so, then the requirement is that they must be closely supervised and that the doctor must be responsible for all decision-making. However, calling in new prescriptions is generally not a task that medical assistants are permitted to do. 

In contrast, in most states, medical assistants can call in refills of existing prescriptions provided they do so under the close supervision of a physician. 

This guide will go over what medical assistants can and cannot do with medications, such as prescribing, calling in new prescriptions, and calling in prescription refills. 

Can Medical Assistants Prescribe Medications?

No, medical assistants do not have the authority to prescribe medications. Only those with professional degrees such as MD, DO, NP, PA, and OD can prescribe. 

Can Medical Assistants Call in New Prescriptions?

In general, medical assistants cannot call in new prescriptions. In the majority of cases, they can only call in refills that have no changes and have been approved by a physician. 

In some cases, medical assistants may be able to call in new prescriptions provided that the physician is ultimately in charge of ordering and approving the prescription. However, most of the time, calling in new prescriptions does not fall within the duties that can be delegated to medical assistants. 

Can Medical Assistants Call in Prescription Refills?

As it is one of the delegable clinical tasks, most states allow medical assistants to call in prescription refills under certain conditions. The details regarding the refill need to be communicated word-for-word and without any changes.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it is important to check your state’s most recent guidelines to see whether medical assistants can call in prescription refills. 

For example, in California, the refill cannot have any dosage changes or other modifications. In addition, the medical assistant has to be under direct supervision from a physician. This means the physician is the one who has made the clinical decisions and has given the final approval for the prescription.

Why Can’t Medical Assistants Prescribe Medication?

Medical assistants are not permitted to perform any tasks that are considered “practicing medicine.” These tasks include, but are not limited to, presenting themselves as a doctor, diagnosing conditions, and prescribing medications. 

Prescribing medications requires extensive education. This education involves learning about various aspects of drugs such as indications, dosing, adverse drug events, contraindications, and more. Not to mention, doctors go through many years of rigorous hands-on training in patient care and how to appropriately prescribe medications.

This extent of training simply cannot be replicated in a medical assistant training program. Through these programs, medical assistants do not receive nearly enough training or education to be able to safely, effectively, and legally prescribe medications. 

Even if they do receive education in pharmacology and clinical care, they do not meet the legal, educational, or licensing requirements needed to prescribe medications. 

As a result, prescribing medications does not fall within the medical assistant scope of practice. The privilege is limited only to health professionals with certain professional degrees (MD, DO, NP, PA etc.).

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