Medical assistants work with doctors and other staff to provide healthcare services to patients in doctors offices, clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Medical assistants can help with a variety of clinical tasks such as taking vital signs, drawing blood, and removing stitches.
But can a medical assistant start IVs?
Whether or not a medical assistant can start an IV depends on the state. Some states allow medical assistants to start IVs without restrictions. Some require medical assistants to get special training or certification, while others completely forbid it.
This guide will go over which states allow medical assistants to start IVs, which require special training or certification, and which don’t allow it at all.
State-by-State Breakdown of Where Medical Assistants Can Start IVs
Each state has a scope of practice for medical assistants. The scope of practice dictates what medical assistants are and are not allowed to do.
While most medical assistants can draw blood not all of them can start IV’s. An intravenous catheter is usually much larger than a needle used for blood draws, stays in place for an extended period of time, and is used to administer medications. For these reasons, rules about IV insertion are more strict than rules about performing blood draws.
States That Allow Medical Assistants to Start IVs Without Restrictions
The state laws for medical assistants in most states are extremely vague. Most scope of practice laws allow for any reasonable task to be delegated to the medical assistant as long as a physician takes ultimate responsibility for the task.
In states with no clear language prohibiting IV insertions by medical assistants, it is left up to the advanced practice provider to decide what is appropriate delegation.
States that allow medical assistants to start IVs without restrictions include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
While most states have no clear laws regarding IV starts by medical assistants or other unlicensed personnel, most healthcare facilities do require that their staff go through some training before working with IV catheters.
States That Allow Medical Assistants to Start IVs With Special Certification and/or Training
In states where medical assistants can start IVs, MAs must learn how to start an IV with good technique to avoid injuring the patient or giving them an infection. Medical assistants are never allowed to administer medications through an IV but often can insert them with special training.
States that allow medical assistants to start IVs with special training include:
States That Do Not Allow Medical Assistants to Start IVs
Even with special training and/or certifications, many states do not allow medical assistants to start IVs at all.
These states have specific language prohibiting unlicensed assistive personnel from starting IVs.
Some have specific language stating that only an RN or advanced practice provider is allowed to start an IV.
States that don’t allow medical assistants to start IVs include:
What to Do If You Don’t Want to Start IVs
Some medical assistants feel uncomfortable starting IVs. If you live in a state where medical assistants are permitted to start IVs, but you prefer not to, make sure you discuss this with potential employers before you accept a new job.
Even in states where it is not prohibited, many healthcare facilities do not allow unlicensed personnel including medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, or even licensed vocational nurses to start IVs. Talk to your employer to find out their specific policies.
If you want to work in a facility that expects medical assistants to start IVs, you can consider working as a medical administrative assistant. Administrative medical assistants do not perform clinical tasks like dealing with wound dressings, drawing blood, or starting IVs.
Other Medical Assistant Responsibilities Guides
- Medical Assistant Duties & Responsibilities
- Medical Assistant Scope of Practice by State
- Can Medical Assistants Give Injections or Shots?
- Can Medical Assistants Call in Prescriptions & Refills?
- Can Medical Assistants Draw Blood?
- Can Medical Assistants Administer Botox?
- Deciding Whether You Would Make a Good Medical Assistant
- Medical Assistant vs Medical Administrative Assistant
- Skills Required to Be a Medical Assistant