Officials talk rules on giving injections

Roughly 30 physicians, health officials and lobbyists met on Saturday to discuss regulations that bar medical assistants from administering injections, including flu shots and immunizations.

The meeting at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center was to discuss what steps officials and doctors can take to adjust to the requirements, which had largely gone unnoticed or unenforced and have recently sent pediatricians scrambling to adjust.

"This is really a drastic change," said Dr. Jim Christensen, a member of the Southern Nevada Health District's Board of Health, who was at the meeting.

A 30-year-old state law prevented such injections by medical assistants.

But last month, the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners in an emergency meeting passed regulations that would have allowed medical assistants to give flu shots and other vaccines, but prevent them from administering cosmetic injections.

A judge later voided the regulations, saying the board violated the state's open meeting law.

Vaccinations can be expensive to administer, and paying medical assistants to inject people is cheaper than having a doctor do it, physicians have said. As flu season approaches, pediatricians might start charging more for vaccinations or refuse to administer them altogether. Christensen said that could place the burden on the Southern Nevada Health District.

Only an act by the Legislature, which doesn't meet until next year unless a special session is called, could repeal the law.

"We're hoping and we're looking to the legislative branch to sort of help us out," Christensen said. "This law is on the books, it's 20 or 30 years old. It probably made sense at that time but it doesn't make sense now."

A representative of the medical board was present, along with lobbyists with the state and county medical societies, he said. The lobbyists are talking to legislators to find a solution to the problem, he said.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at or 702-383-0440.