What is the purpose of the Nurse Practice Act?
How do regulations in Nurse Practice Act guide nurses facing legal or ethical patient care issues?
The purpose of the Nursing Practice Act is to regulate the practice of nursing at the state level and protect the public. It sets standards about scope of practice for RN's, LPN's, and NP's. “The Nurse Practice Act lists all of the duties and role of a nurse, except the legal and ethical ones. Each nurse has a limitation on what he is allowed to do.” (Edwards.) They also set up educational requirements for each scope involved. The one concern that some have is non nurses setting some of the rules in legislation. Most states reopen and reexamine the NPA when times and situation change.
Nurses face issues with patients regarding legal or ethical decisions on a daily basis. The regulations set by the nurse practice act guides nurses by setting standards of care. It defines what a prudent nurse would do in the same situations. Nurses have a legal liability to advocate for patients, and provide safe administration of medications, and provide quality, nursing care to patients without negligence. The ANA code of Ethics requires that Nurses do no harm. New regulations in nursing practices can create situations of conflict between ethical nursing practice and the law. Nurses need to follow the law. Nurses need to keep themselves cognizant of changes in the nurse practice acts and how they are affected by these changes. “Nurses need to be able to read and understand legal language in order to analyze how that language will affect their practice and conversely their patient.” (Furlong. P.31) The nurse practice act is always changing. New technology changes and increased workload, nurses are required to stay up to date with the changing scope of practice.
Brekken, S. A., & Evans, S. (2011). Strategies for opening the nurse practice act. Journal Of Nursing Regulation, 1(4), 32-36...