CNA's calling in/writing prescriptions



I have a question that I hope someone can answer for me. I work in a specialty clinic/surgery center in Wisconsin. I am an LPN.

I was at my desk this afternoon, when a nursing assistant sits down next to me; and calls in a prescription to a pharmacy for one our patients.

Since when is this legal? I have been an LPN for 30 years, and I have never worked in any facility that would allow a non-licensed staff member to call in a prescription for a patient. I watched the nursing assistant write out the prescription and had the provider sign it, as well. I was at a loss for words, quite frankly.

I spoke with one of the clinic managers about what I had just witnessed; and her response was " well; I am not sure what the policy is of this clinic--I don't think that MA's/CNA's are suppposed to be doing that."

If nursing assistants can write/call in medications to pharmacies-then why did I bother going to nursing school?

I want to know what is legal in the state of Wisconsin---the last thing I want, is to have the State come back into this clinic and shut us down for violations/infractions.

All comments are apprecicated!

Phelan 26 in Wisconsin

sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

If the provider signed it, it's all good- but that does not make it best practice. The laws vary state to state of course but also facility to facility- It may be a common practice in a doctors office but not a nursing home.

Call your nursing board or the dept of health services (or the equivalent). I am in CA, the regs are clear here but sounds like muddy there.:uhoh3:

Specializes in Cardiac Care. Has 10 years experience.

Yes, I think there are lots of things wrong with the scenario you've described. I've never heard of a CNA phoning prescriptions in. Never. Doesn't sound like a good habit to be getting into, does it?

Specializes in Med/Surg, ER, L&D, ICU, OR, Educator.

Not okay where I am from.:nono:

NURSE is not in her title, education or capability.

Shame on the doctor who put her up to this.

Has 26 years experience.

Well--think about it--in most MD's offices, a medical assitant who has had little or no formal training--they are on the job trained-call in all the RX's--it's amazing what you can do without a license, even in the state of CA

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

It is common practice in countless medical offices and clinics for unlicensed personnel, such as medical assistants and aides, to telephone prescriptions into the pharmacy and/or write out the orders on the script pad. As long as the doctor signs the script, these employees are essentially performing their actions under the physician's license and policy.

Physicians are also businesspersons, and they must find manners in which they'll receive the most bang for their buck. To cut costs, it is less expensive to hire MAs and aides to perform tasks which were once within the strict realm of licensed nursing staff.

HM2VikingRN, RN

4,700 Posts

file an incident report documenting your concerns

Home Health Columnist / Guide


11 Articles; 17,692 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 46 years experience.
Well--think about it--in most MD's offices, a medical assitant who has had little or no formal training--they are on the job trained-call in all the RX's--it's amazing what you can do without a license, even in the state of CA


Standard physician office practice in many states these days. Meidcal assistants are under direct license of MD and do whatever task MD trains them to perform---except if covered by MD/DO/PA/RN license regulations. Prescription renewals falls under MD licnese and state pharmacy laws.

Blew me away when I first started in homecare 20yrs+ ago and discovered this practice. Physician's who permit RX pads to be carried by clerical staff for med refills are open to abuse by said employee.

My PCP went to electronic Medical record about 6 years ago. All RX recorded in system and printed out on special paper with details recorded in puter and signed by him end of visit. Legible too!


281 Posts

I've been at many doctors offices where the receptionist calls in the prescription for the physician. This is perfectly good and legal because the receptionist didn't AUTHORIZE/write the script. The big deal is when you have people who don't hold a DEA numbe trying to write/authorize their own prescriptions. That is illegal. However, if there is a middle-man (so to speak) passing along a physicians request and authorization, then it is perfectly legal.


3 Posts


In San Diego Medical Assistants are able to call in Rx's under a Dr's supervision. Some MA's have had 2 yrs or more of college and are paid over $22.00/hr. Over 20 yrs. ago some MA's were taught to cath pt's. So it seems some MA's are pretty valueable to their MD's. In San Diego some MD's consider MA's/LVN's the same in their office. MA's can not call in Rx's in nursing home's, hospital's only in MD's offices. Most MA's do not work in nursing homes. There is a difference between CNA's and MA's.


1,038 Posts

Specializes in Spinal Cord injuries, Emergency+EMS.

i really dont see what the issue is

the prescription was checked andsigned by someone who is a prescriber ...

do you have to be an RN to send a script to pharmacy? i think not given the script is signed by a prescriber and will be clinically checked by a pharmacist thefactthat some / all the detaisl were written by someone other tha nthe prescriber and that the scriptwassent to pharmacy by someoen who isn't a health professional is pretty irrelevant...

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