Regulation of Medicine

Article

Licensed Practical Nurse Scope of Practice

December 4, 2019

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) must be licensed to enter the career. They often work in long-term care facilities and nursing homes instead of physician offices or hospitals. Every state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for LPNs as well as registered nurses (RNs). LPNs are usually supervised by either an RN or a physician.

 

Duties LPNs May Perform[1]

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses typically do the following: 

  • Monitor patients’ health, such as checking their blood pressure
  • Administer basic patient care, including changing bandages and inserting catheters
  • Provide for the basic comfort of patients, such as helping them bathe or dress
  • Discuss the care they are providing with patients and listen to their concerns
  • Report patients’ status and concerns to registered nurses and doctors
  • Keep records on patients’ health
  • Perform CPR in emergencies

 

Duties LPNs May Not Perform[2]

Check your state’s Nurse Practice Act for the scope of practice for LPNs in your state. Every state has a Nurse Practice Act that defines the scope of practice for LPNs as well as registered nurses (RNs).

  • LPNs’ duties vary depending on their practice setting and the state in which they work
    • For example, in some states, LPNs are allowed to start IVs while in others they are not
  • State laws and regulations also govern how much direct supervision of an LPN is necessary by an RN or physician
  • Some states even allow LPNs to supervise and direct medical assistants and other unlicensed medical staff

[1] What Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses Do, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-2 (last modified June 14, 2019)

[2] Id.

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The information provided in this resource does not constitute legal, medical or any other professional advice, nor does it establish a standard of care. This resource has been created as an aid to you in your practice. The ultimate decision on how to use the information provided rests solely with you, the PolicyOwner.