April 17, 2000
THE ADMINISTRATION OF SHOTS BY MEDICAL ASSISTANTS
By: Gregory Joiner, Research Fellow
You asked (1) whether other states allow medical assistants to administer shots, and (2) why the legislature changed the law that permitted medical assistants to administer shots.
The Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to issue legal opinions and this memorandum should not be considered as one.
We surveyed the other New England states and New York. Of the six states, four allow medical assistants to administer shots (New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont). In each of these states, medical assistants may administer shots only under the supervision of a licensed practitioner such as a physician, physician's assistant, or nurse. Only Maine and Massachusetts prohibit medical assistants from administering shots.
Connecticut law does not explicitly address the administration of shots by medical assistants, and we found no information indicating that it has ever done so. But it appears that while not legally prohibited, the activity is contrary to public policy. Prior to the mid 1980s, there is some indication that unlicensed health care providers such as medical assistants were permitted to administer shots under the supervision of licensed practitioners such as physicians and nurses. But in 1984, the Department of Public Health amended Conn. Agencies Reg. § 19-13-D74, “Administration of Medicines in Home Health Care Agencies,” thereby limiting the administration of medicine in such settings to licensed practitioners. Prior to the amendment, the regulation permitted “agency staff” to administer medicine. This amendment seems to mark the shift in public policy against allowing unlicensed health care providers such as medical assistants to administer medicine, including shots.
Connecticut's public policy against medical assistants administering medicine was enforced in 1995, when the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing issued a declaratory ruling regarding the delegation of duties by licensed nurses to unlicensed personnel. The board ruled that the administration of medication, including shots, represented a “licensed activity” that could not be delegated to unlicensed personnel such as medical assistants.
We have attached a copy of the relevant language from the declaratory ruling issued by the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing.