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Is there a list anywhere that would specify what exactly unlicensed assistive personnel can and cannot do?

Monday October 1, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

Our clinic recently eliminated two RN positions and replaced them with a certified nursing assistant and a medical assistant. Our state nurse practice act says that unlicensed assistive personnel are not allowed to do anything which required training and education for an RN, but doesn't specify what exactly anything means. Discussions with our boss, who is not a nurse, about our legal concerns end with our boss ranting, raving and accusing us of sabotaging his plans. Is there a list anywhere that would specify what exactly UAPs can and cannot do?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Dinah,

Each state nurse practice act and its rules vary, so there is not one list to check your concerns against. In some states, courts may have interpreted phrases that your nurse practice act includes in terms of providing guidance about what a UAP can or cannot do. One would have to check court decisions in your state.

There are many general resources and publications you can review that might help you with your situation. These include:

• The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (2007). "Unlicensed Assistive Personnel. TAANA Recommends." (Available at www.taana.org/Public/false11.asp)

• Association of Women's Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nursing (2009). "Position Statement: The Role of the Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (Nursing Assistive Personnel) in the Care of Women and Newborns" (Available at http://www.awhonn.org/awhonn/content.do?name=05_HealthPolicyLegislation/5H_PositionStatements.htm

• Susan Cox (2006). "How To Delegate To UAPs." 36(6) Nursing 2012, 10-11 (Available at http://www.nursingcenter.com/lnc/journalarticle?Article_ID=649854)

• Pamela Anderson, Renee Twibell and Debra Siela (2006). "Delegating Without Doubts." 1(2) American Nurse Today. (Available at www.americannursetoday.com/article.aspx?id=5162&fid=5120

• The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (1997). "The Five Rights Of Delegation". (Available at https://www.ncsbn.org/fiverights.pdf)

All articles online were accessed September 27, 2012.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.