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Rules and Regulations Every Nurse Needs to Know

Nurses are highly trained professionals working to ensure their patients receive the best care possible. They work directly with patients in a variety of healthcare settings, and each case is specific to the patient's needs. Nurses must draw upon their education and experience to perform their duties in a safe, effective and ethical manner. It is vitally important that nurses understand and follow nursing rules and regulations to be sure they are responsibly carrying out their duties.

Understanding the Nurse Practice Act

Every state has a Nurse Practice Act that stipulates the nursing rules and regulations specifically for that state. All nurses should fully understand and be capable of following their state’s Nurse Practice Act.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, each state's Nurse Practice Act is different, as determined by the state's Board of Nursing. All Nurse Practice Acts include standards for educational programs, nursing practice standards and scope, types and requirements of titles and licenses, and guidelines for disciplinary action.

Violations of Nurse Practice Act

Nurses who practice in an unsafe or incompetent manner are in violation of a number of nursing rules and regulations. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers the following list of violations.

A report should be made if a nurse is doing any of the following while practicing in a healthcare setting:

  • Using illicit drugs or alcohol.
  • Stealing from a patient.
  • Providing care that should only be administered by a physician.
  • Falsifying records.
  • Abusing patients, physically or sexually.
  • Conducting any criminal activity.

If a nurse notices any of these violations where they are working, he or she should report them immediately to their state's Board of Nursing.

Nursing Ethics

The American Nursing Association (ANA) has an updated code of ethics, which helps practicing nurses to understand the ethical analysis and decision-making issues in all clinical and research environments.

The ANA's nursing code is comprised of nine provisions that provide a clear understanding of the obligations, values and duties of every professional nurse. The standards are available to help nurses provide the best care and allow them to support one another in the profession.

Nursing is a profession in which a great deal is at stake, including the health and safety of the patients and the professional reputation of the caregiver. The safe and successful delivery of patient care is only possible when nurses follow specific nursing rules and regulations required of them.

Learn more about Purdue Northwest's RN to BSN online program.


American Nurses Association: About the Code

National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Nurse Practice Act, Rules & Regulations

National Council of State Boards of Nursing: State and Territorial Boards of Nursing: What Every Nurse Needs to Know

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