In a doctor’s office, people like to know who they are speaking to and what their role is in the office. Unlicensed staff perform check in, room the patient, take vital signs, and in many instances give injections after the doctor visit. Patients can have a difficult time deciphering who is performing the task, even when the staff member introduced him-or herself earlier.
According to the Business and Professional Code Section 680, while working, practitioners must disclose his or her name and license on a name tag in at least 18-point type. This is a requirement for both licensed personnel and unlicensed personnel such as medical assistants, who perform tasks and procedures subject to regulation under this law.
Furthermore, B&PC 680 states, “In the interest of public safety and consumer awareness, it shall be unlawful for any person to use the title “nurse” in reference to himself or herself and in any capacity, except for an individual who is a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse, or as otherwise provided in Section 2800.” The law does not mandate that a medical assistant must use his or her title; however, if the patient refers to the medical assistant as nurse, the MA should correct the patient.
The following two criteria must both be met to be exempted:
(1) the health care practitioner is working in a facility that is in a psychiatric environment that is not licensed by the state (such as a physician's office) and
(2) the employing entity has a concern "for individual safety or therapeutic concerns."
However, physicians should use this exception only when necessary and document why the exception applies. Additionally, physicians working in their office may opt out of wearing a name tag if their license is prominently displayed.
Joseph Wager, MS, RCP
CAP Senior Risk Management & Patient Safety Specialist
If you have questions about this article, please contact us. This information should not be considered legal advice applicable to a specific situation. Legal guidance for individual matters should be obtained from a retained attorney.