Wagner Reese, LLC is an experienced, award-winning law firm with a focus on medical malpractice and personal injury law in Indiana. With a professional, skilled staff, they are dedicated to helping their clients when a medical care provider leaves them injured.

Medical malpractice law can be complicated and difficult to understand without a lawyer. One of the more confusing aspects is the role of various medical professionals, and what separates them. 

The difference between medical assistants and registered nurses may not seem major but can make a difference in a medical malpractice case. This post will explain a few key differences, so that you can better understand.

Medical Nurse Showing Statistics To A Patient

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Roles and Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

A medical assistant is, as the title suggests, someone who assists the doctors and nurses in a medical care facility. They handle the administrative and clinical side of things, like taking vital signs and scheduling appointments. When you are at the doctor and someone takes you into the back to weigh you and take your blood pressure, that is a medical assistant. 

While they do not generally handle any of the vital work of medical care, they are still an important facet of a medical facility. Much of the patient interface is with a medical assistant, and they often are the ones who deliver bloodwork and the like between stations as well as record the data. 

Comparison of the Educational Requirements and Scope of Practice for Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses

Looking at a comparison of medical assistants and registered nurses, a registered nurse has much more responsibility in a medical facility, and thus has much higher requirements. A nurse must earn at least an associate degree and pass a licensing exam before they can get a nursing job. 

A medical assistant, in contrast, only needs a high school diploma or GED. They must complete a training program, but it is nowhere near as intensive as obtaining a nursing degree.

With a medical assistant vs. registered nurse, you will find that while both positions are important, a nurse is going to be doing more complicated medical work. Much more is expected of them, as well.

Highlighting the Distinct Duties and Responsibilities that Registered Nurses Have Compared to Medical Assistants

Whereas medical assistants mostly handle administrative and clinical duties, a registered nurse does most of the actual medical work. They perform the following duties: 

  • Observe patients and record the findings
  • Administer medicine and treatment
  • Plan for ongoing care
  • Educate patients and the public

When a patient visits a medical facility, they are likely going to spend most of their time with nurses. The bulk of your care is in their hands and they have had extensive training to handle that care. As a consequence of this, they have many more chances to practice medical malpractice and have a higher standard of care to live up to.

Importance of Understanding the Difference between the Two Professions in Healthcare Settings

While they are often confused, it is important to understand the difference between medical assistants and registered nurses. A nurse has many more responsibilities with medical care and handles much more of the serious work. While a medical assistant takes care of more of the day-to-day running of the facility, a nurse administers much of the medical care. 

While a nurse handles more duties, both can be held responsible for medical malpractice. There are just different rules for each of them.

Person In A Blue Shirt

Examples of Situations Where a Medical Assistant’s Role May Overlap with a Registered Nurse’s Responsibilities

Both professions handle entry-level patient care and assist the doctors. They are the main employees you interact with as a patient, administering the majority of medical care. They also both are responsible for recording the findings to keep as records. 

Discussion on the Career Paths and Opportunities Available for Both Medical Assistants and Registered Nurses

Medical assistant tends to be the entry point of the medical industry, and most filling this position plan to move up into more lucrative careers within the field. A medical assistant will need to complete the necessary education and certification, but gaining experience as an assistant during that time will certainly help get their foot in the door. 

Nursing is a broad field, and a registered nurse can pursue any number of paths and specializations. Nurses do not generally move up to a doctorate, but a nurse can rise to very important roles in a medical facility. 

Potential Legal Implications and Consequences of Medical Errors Committed by Medical Assistants or Registered Nurses

Medical assistants and registered nurses can both be guilty of medical malpractice, though there are different rules. For example, malpractice committed by an assistant can reflect back on the doctor who employs them. Since the assistant is acting in their name, they are also liable.

A medical malpractice lawyer, such as Wagner Reese, LLP, can help you better understand the legal implications of these two fields. Wagner Reese has been named one of Indiana’s 25 Top Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers multiple times and holds several other esteemed titles.

If you have any questions, you can reach out for experienced, professional help from Wagner Reese for a free consultation. We offer your personal injury claims explained in detail when you need guidance. We can be reached when you call or complete our online contact form.