As a Medical Assistant, you’ll probably do both administrative and clinical work in a physician’s office or clinic. As part of your clinical duties, you might find yourself helping out during minor surgeries. No, you won’t be in an OR during heart surgery or hip replacement, but there are lots of outpatient procedures where the doctor needs an extra set of hands and someone to keep the patient calm. You’d probably set up the room, take a patient’s vitals, and pass instruments to the doctor during the procedure.
What Is Minor Surgery?
Surgery never seems minor to the patient. But as a Medical Assistant, you’ll understand that there’s a big difference between major and minor surgeries. Minor surgical procedures are those that are minimally invasive. In most cases, these are performed without the need for large incisions. Small incisions are made that allow surgical tools and a small camera to be inserted into the body. This allows the doctor to perform the procedure without damaging extensive amounts of tissue. The risk of infection is greatly reduced and the patient’s recovery time is also much shorter. There are also surgical procedures that are superficial, only affecting the outermost portions of the body.
Some minor surgeries might include:
- Wart or skin tag removal
- Closure of a cut
- Drainage of an abscess
- Repair or removal of an ingrown toenail
- Skin or tissue biopsies
Medical Assistant Duties During Minor Surgery
Before a minor surgery can begin, you’ll need to prep the room where the procedure will occur. You’ll clean and sterilize the room and equipment. You’ll assemble the sterile tools and materials and make sure the doctor has everything they need. Attention to detail here is critical, especially regarding proper sterilization.
Once the room is ready, you’ll bring in the patient and let them know what they need to do and what they can expect. Take their vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, and note them accurately on their electronic medical record. Answer any questions the patient has, relay their concerns to the doctor, and do what you can to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
During the surgery, you’ll assist the physician by handing them the surgical tools they need, such as scalpels and scissors. You might also be asked to:
- Set up a sterile field by gathering sterile packages and tools
- Clean the surgical site with iodine or chloroprene solutions
- Perform a venipuncture to be used during the procedure
- Use suction to give doctor a better view of work area
- Retrieve equipment that becomes needed during procedure
- Wipe away blood or pus from the surgical site
When the surgery is over, you’ll bandage the area and show the patient how to properly care for the wound until it heals. You’ll also perform post-op clean-up. That means cleaning up the operating table, tools, and equipment, putting everything that’s reusable back where it belongs, and properly disposing of any biohazardous materials.
What Medical Assistants Can’t Do During Minor Surgery
As a Medical Assistant, there are tasks you are and are not allowed to perform. You’ll handle quite a few responsibilities in the procedure room before, during, and after surgery. But you’re not a doctor or a nurse and there are many tasks that you aren’t allowed to do. For instance, you aren’t allowed to administer anesthesia. Unlike major surgeries, which require general anesthesia, minor surgeries only require local anesthesia. This is typically injected into the surgical site to numb it before the procedure begins. Only the doctor can give local anesthesia. You also won’t be allowed to make lacerations with a scalpel. This is done to remove a mole or wart, drain an abscess, or take a biopsy. The only time you’ll pick up the scalpel is to hand it to the physician.
To become a Medical Assistant, you’ll need to have knowledge of human anatomy, health and safety standards, and how to manage a medical office. You can learn all of that and more when you earn an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assistant from Charter College. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.