Medical Procedures Study Guide for the Medical Assistant test

Page 1

General Information

Questions concerning medical procedures are scattered throughout a medical assistant test. This outline will help you become familiar with some of those things and give you some ideas for further study.

Patient Intake

By the time a doctor or other medical professional sees a patient, much groundwork has usually been laid by a medical assistant. Here are the categories of knowledge and skills required to do this part of the job.

Patient Record Review

Before the patient sees the physician, it is your job to have everything ready for the physician. This includes reviewing patient medical history, noting such things as record of substance abuse and other previously determined health risks. Also, be sure to check if the patient is up-to-date on checkups, vaccines, and screenings. When you meet with the patient, you can focus on inquiring about medication changes, and asking if the patient has anything specific to discuss with the physician.

Room Preparation

The patient’s room should be prepared for the patient and physician. In addition to ensuring a clean room, have any instruments or supplies ready to use by the physician. Take care of the special needs of all patients, such as physical and other disabilities. For example, a patient in a wheelchair should have a large room that is cleared of any obstacles.

Patient Identification

Before providing care, ensure that the correct patient is in the room. Use patient identifiers, such as full name and date of birth. You may also ask the patient these questions again before starting any procedures. In some offices, patients will be given armbands. Check the armband and ask the patient questions to identify them.

Patient History

You may be required to take a brief history from the patient about their reason for coming to the ER/clinic. Take subjective information (the patient’s account of symptoms, problems, etc.) as well as objective information (vital signs, recent lab results, etc.). Know how to employ the pain scale while interviewing a patient and review the SOAP method of charting, as this style is required. Know what should be included in a POMR (problem-oriented medical record).


Anthropometrics refers to the study of the human body’s movement and measurements, or mensurations. These would include vital signs, as well as weight and height measurements. A BMI, for example, is a ratio of a patient’s height and weight. The measurements can be used to monitor a patient’s overall health, including things like identifying a tendency toward obesity.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a vital sign. When taking a blood pressure manually, a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer are used. The top number of a blood pressure is a systolic measurement (how hard blood is pumped throughout the body) and the bottom number is called a diastolic measurement (pressure of blood flow from the body back to the heart). Practice taking blood pressures manually and be familiar with abnormal readings.


Pulse is another vital sign. There are several pulse points, the most common being the radial pulse. Not only is pulse rate important, but so is the rhythm. Practice taking and recording pulses. Recognize abnormal values.


Height and weight are measurements that are important to monitor for patient health. Some physicians will use the Body Mass Index (BMI). Be familiar with BMI calculations. Report any weight gain or loss to the physician. Review proper methods for weighing patients who are in a wheelchair. When weighing infants, they must be weighed on a scale without clothes or soiled diapers.

Body Temperature

Body temperature is another measurement. It can be taken several different ways, including orally, rectally, and axillary. Know normal and abnormal readings. Some facilities use celsius instead of fahrenheit, so practice conversions.

Oxygen Saturation/Pulse Oximetry

Oxygen saturation is read using a pulse oximeter. Pulse oximeters are devices used on the finger to check heart rate and oxygen saturation. Know normal and abnormal values.

Respiration Rate

Respiratory rate is an important vital sign, as well. One breath in and out counts as 1 cycle or breath. In the average adult the typical resting respiratory rate is 12-20 respirations per minute. Observe and record respiratory rate and be familiar with normal and abnormal results.


All Study Guides for the Medical Assistant test are now available as downloadable PDFs