What exactly is a "Medical Assistant"?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by dupa, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    The only times I have ever been misdiagnosed were at urgent care--where the doctors ask all the questions about my medical history :lol:.

    I hate going to urgent care. I wish my body would cooperate with me on that one and stop falling apart on Friday nights.
  2. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    My last two visits to the ER were very specific and the diagnosis was a no-brainer. One was a textbook peritonsillar abscess (yuck) and the other, just over the weekend was a textbook otitis media. A first year medical student could have diagnosed that.

    You never want to be an "interesting" or "challenging" case.
  3. Wiery

    Wiery Well-Known Member

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    Very true!
  4. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    IME most doctor's offices/clinic discourage the credentials listed on a name tag. In my internal doctor's office, there are no name tags worn - i just know what their credentials are because I ask. In my ENT office, I happened to have worked with a couple of the staff nurses so I know their credentials.
    The last time I was at my internal doctor's office, the CMA did measurements one of which was incorrect (the nurse came in to verify it as it was inconsistent with a measurement taken 5 weeks earlier). If you are doing a quick review of symptoms questionairne and quick measurements because you are sick - ok, go ahead.

    But when it comes to listing my medications with dosages and the frequency I prefer to talk to the RN. With my annual physical, I brought in the list of medications I am taking, the spelling, any otc medications and vitamins. The CMA was reading off the list from my chart. Which included an antibiotic that I had prescribed 3 months earlier, a solumedrol pack prescribed 3 months earlier and antibiotic ear drops prescribed 3 months earlier. When I said I wasn't taking those medications anymore, she said why not - the doctor will want to know why you quit taking them. Uh, they were prescribed for a specific illness and specific timeframe.
  5. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I didn't think I was challenging at all. I had, after all, already diagnosed myself :p.

    Me: I have a lung infection.
    Doctor: Thank you for your input, Dr. Prancer. Now let's see what you really have. I would say you have a cold.
    Me: I have a lung infection. I have had at least six lung infections and I am positive this is a lung infection. Colds don't faze me at all; I don't even run a fever with a cold.
    Doctor: If you've had six lung infections, then you must not take very good care of yourself. What you have now is a cold, which is a virus, and there is nothing I can do for you. Go home--fluids, bedrest.

    I had a lung infection--which was very bad by Monday.

    Me: I have a rash that is spreading very quickly and it's itching horribly.
    Doctor: Wow, I've never seen anything like that before.
    Me: I think I need a steroid cream
    Doctor: Nah, it must be some kind of allergy. Put some Benadryl on it and wrap it in Saran wrap, so you don't rub it off.
    Me: I already tried Benadryl and it didn't help at all.
    Doctor: It will help if you use the Saran Wrap. Trust me.

    So I put Benadryl on it and wrapped it in Saran Wrap, and then on Monday went to the dermatologist, who was aghast at the Saran Wrap and gave me a whopping dose of steroids--shot, cream AND pills.

    I also think that Urgent Cares are staffed mostly by doctors who don't have sufficient social skills to have their own practices :shuffle:.

    I've had some very bad experiences in Urgent Cares.
  6. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    We've had good luck with urgent care, but ours is staffed by MDs and NPs who are part of the regular practice teams within the medical group. Every MD and NP in the group does a rotation at least once a month. They have full access to the medical records, and will contact the PCPs or treating specialists if they need to. They use a "call first" system, so they actually call up your records before you come in and are ready to take you if you're really sick. It's really nice, but I realize that most folks don't have access to such large groups.
  7. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    I used to go to a practice that had an after hours urgent care. If you were a patient of the practice, they treated it like an office visit. That was REALLY nice while it lasted, but then the doctors had a fight and all of them left but one--and he was the one I just couldn't stand. I kept going to him for a while, but one day he told me my blood pressure was really high and I heard myself say "It's only high when I am seeing you."

    And I realized that was true and left.
  8. Kelli

    Kelli Member

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    It does where I work too, unless I'm not paying attention to what I type...
  9. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    My guess is that urgent care docs wade through hundreds and hundreds of viral colds a day fighting off patients demanding antibiotics. So to them Prancer is the boy who cried wolf #146 but in her case she turned out to be right and there was a wolf. Not that it's a good excuse for not being more careful; and certainly it's not Prancer's fault that so many people go to the doctor with a cold asking for antibiotics.

    I've read that low levels of vitamin D are linked with frequent colds but am not sure where I saw this or how good the research was. May be I should try it.
  10. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    At my recent visit to the primary care doc, the medical asst measured my height and weight before I saw the doc. She informed me I was 4'9" - which was wrong unless I had suddenly shrunk a few inches. I told her it was 4'11" and she said she'd try again. So she pulls the measuring stick up and then says "Look". I stepped off and turned around and pointed out to her that it was on 59 1/2". She said "Right, four-nine." I explained to her that no, 60 inches would be 5 feet and 1/2 inch less is 4'11 and 1/2". She didn't even react and I'm quite certain she didn't change what she wrote down - why the feck she didn't just write the number of inches and leave it at that, I don't know.

    I told my doc about it, b/c I was so annoyed, but she didn't have the chart with the measurements with her so she couldn't check. And with everything she has to do and think about, she probably forgot what I said the minute she walked out of the room. So my med records are now incorrect b/c of a stupid med asst. Hopefully, the next time I'm there, I'll get someone who knows how many inches are in a foot. Or just writes down the inches w/o trying to convert them into feet.

    And at the end of my visit, the brilliant med asst came back into the room to give me my tetanus booster. Sorry if this offends anyone here, but I wasn't too thriled about having my arm stuck with a needle by someone who can't even do 2nd grade math. Not that I had a say. My arm hurt like hell afterward, which I don't remember after my last booster, but that was 10 years ago so I may have forgotten.
    Kasey and (deleted member) like this.
  11. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    ^ Might I say that there are very incompetent people that are overemployed and very competent people that are underemployed. This does not reflect the job title or function of "medical assistant" but the labor market as a whole.

    There are some that miscalculate the height of a person. There are some that miscalculate the rewards of prolonged military commitments. The difference is that one went to vocational school, because that is what their resources allowed, so now they calculate incorrectly in inches while the other was a legacy admit at prestigious schools, because that is what their resources allowed, so miscalculated in Trillions of Dollars.

    Conversely, there are some that were doctors in their homeland, but now they are self-employed as convenience store owners. There are some that are middle aged that had no opportunity for higher education although they were very bright, so they are now construction workers.

    ETA: Sometimes it is a clinic's policy to adjust certain measurements to compensate for added height by shoes and added weight by clothes. However, an inch or pound or two or even three will not changes a person's BMI calculation much.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  12. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    I don't think I said anything about "medical assistants as a whole." I was responding to Numbers' post with a similar story from my experience.

    I'm not sure what the Bush administration has to do with the training of medical assistants, but as far as this particular person goes, you (and I) don't know what her "resources" were or why she went to vocational school. If you are suggesting her education background prior to vocational school was lacking (and you may be right), even if that's true, it doesn't give her a free pass to screw up - shouldn't a vocational training program in the health care field make sure the people it certifies know basic measurement rules? That is kind of important in health care - mistakes can have scary consequences. How do I know that she correctly measured the amount of vaccine to put in the syringe? Hopefully, she's done it enough (and the amount isn't person-specific) that she knew how to do it right. And I'm still alive, so that's a good sign.

    I took my shoes off before I stepped on the scale.
  13. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    It is a big deal as women age. if ones height begins to shrink, my physician is concerned about bone density and back/spine issues. And reputable clinics would use accurate measurements, not "compensate for added height of shoes." And unless I am carrying rocks in my sweater or sweatshirts, I don't believe that weight should be that different. Unless your clinic weighs you with your winter coat, platform shoes, etc. My doctor's office always has you remove your shoes and coats before weighing.

    Urgent Care clinics have not weighed or measured my height for the very reason you mentioned. Medication dosages are pretty standard for adults. Now when my kids were little, they always were weighed because of the mg/kg dosage recommendations.
  14. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    I don't approve of it either. Doing something the right way does not take that much more time.

    To those setting the policies and procedures, relevance is everything.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  15. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

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    Not trying to excuse the MA you saw, but tetanus shots always hurt in my experience. Good thing we don't have to get them too often!
  16. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    I love people who do this. I can't tell you how many patients I get who say "well, I take a little white pill every morning and a littler white pill every night. No, I don't know what they're for. Why don't you know what it is? It's just a simple white pill." It's worse when it's a new patient and we have no records on them whatsoever...

    OK, now that's just wrong.

    Did you get a solo tetanus shot or a DPT? At least in my experience with the DPTs, it's a thicker mix than some others so it tends to hurt more.
  17. Prancer

    Prancer The "specialness" that is Staff Member

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    In general, I think competence tends to be systemic. Frankly, if I had an MA who wasn't competent, I wouldn't be worried about the MA; I'd be worried about the practice overall. If the MA is incompetent, why is the MA still there? Either the doctor doesn't know the MA is incompetent, which is one problem, or the doctor is willing to accept that kind of incompetence for whatever reason, which is another.

    Either way, the MA isn't the problem.

    I will say that I think a lot of people are quite unreasonable in the way they determine competence. But I still wouldn't go to a practice where I thought the staff was incompetent.

    :lol: My current doctor's office has all the new patient forms online, so I downloaded them and filled them out before I went in. I know how to list my meds, but I took them along anyway because I knew they wouldn't trust me. Sure enough, the MA started asking me suspicious questions about my medication and I dumped them all out of my purse. And I had a fistful of labs from my last doctor to boot. It's amazing how little things like that so obviously raise other people's opinion of your IQ.
  18. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    I can't speak for DebbieS, but mkats is probably correct. The Tdap recommendations are as follows:
    • Adults younger than age 65yrs who have not already received Tdap.
    • Adults of any age, including adults age 65yrs and older, in contact with infants younger than age 12m (e.g., parents, grandparents, childcare providers, healthcare personnel) who have not received a dose of Tdap should be prioritized for vaccination.
    • Healthcare personnel who work in hospitals or ambulatory care settings and have direct patient contact and who have not received Tdap.
    • Adults age 65yrs and older without a risk indicator (e.g., not in contact with an infant) may also be vaccinated with Tdap
    Since this is a newer vaccine, it is probable that the injection site feel different. But please everyone as your HCP about the Tdap.
  19. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

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    You want vitamin D3 2000 IU plus vitamin K2 20mg. The magic bullet. We sell a ton of it in our office. It's nickname is K2 D3.
  20. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Is this the brand name? Thanks, I know very little about vitamin supplements.
  21. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

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    Reply, no it is generic. PM me if you want my Amway/Quixtar/Nutrilite version available at my website.
  22. Debbie S

    Debbie S Well-Known Member

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    That was probably what I got - the D, P, and T combined. Since it's new, I guess that's why it felt different than it did 10 years ago.
  23. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

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    I have clients come in all the time that don't even know what the medication they are taking is even for. They tell me and because I have worked with meds for so long, many of the main heart, bp, chol, diabetes, gastro, and mental health meds I know pretty well. (I have all the pain management ones down pat...lol!!)

    I can't wrap my head around just taking some medication and not knowing what it is for.
  24. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    This is a big problem for the elderly. Meds are usually done at the end of an appointment and the patient may already be on information overload. Many don't pick up their own meds at the pharmacy, so don't have the opportunity to go over things with the pharmacist. To top it off, many use pill keepers to aid in compliance, so they don't see the master bottles every day and their memories aren't what they used to be.

    I've encouraged my elderly relatives to make a list and take it to all their appointments.
    x med in y dosage n times a day for condition z​
    Even my sharp as a tack m-i-l has one on her list that she never seems to recall when listing her meds from memory.
  25. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    What about patients who say: "Oh I am taking those little white pills. You know, the little white pills that the tall doctor prescribed?" That's my favorite.
  26. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

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    Ya the CPS has what 5000 little white pills? :rofl: At least with the coloured pills you have a fighting chance to figure out what they are with the CPS.

    A few clients have accessed with just a dosette with no Rx bottles. I get out the CPS to figure out the one's I don't recognize on sight. But damn those little white pills give me a hard time. :lol: