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Is a nurse, who visits a patient, when off duty being inappropriate? Is there somewhere online to review such scenarios?



Dear Nancy,

When is it considered crossing the line in patient care? Is a nurse who visits a patient when she is off duty inappropriate? Are there case scenarios I can find on this website?


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Connie,

There is a wealth of information on a nurse maintaining professional boundaries with patients. Two important guidelines you should be familiar with are authored by professional nursing organizations.

The first is the American Nurses Association’s “Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements” (2001). Although the entire code is applicable to your question, Provision 2, “The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group or community” discusses professional boundaries with patients. The code is available on the ANA’s website at .

A second resource is the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s “Professional Boundaries: A Nurse’s Guide to the Importance of Appropriate Professional Boundaries” (2011). The brochure is available on the council’s website at Type “professional boundaries” in the search bar and the brochure will be listed for downloading or for reading.

In addition to published information, you can explore nursing journal articles, CE offerings, college courses and texts on nursing practice that would include professional boundaries, guidelines and scenarios for review.

Should you have a specific, personal concern about your own professional boundary with a particular patient, you should share your concerns with a trusted colleague, a trusted supervisor, and/or seek professional advice from a nurse attorney or a professional counselor to determine your best options in the situation.



About Author

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.

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