NEW YORK NURSE: June 2010
Q.: I have heard that we are required by law to complete a patient’s admission assessment before the end of our shift. I have looked at the NPA and other sites that have access to laws but I am unable to find the language they refer too. What does this mean and where can I find this law?
A.: Standards and guidelines come from many areas including facility policy, state and federal laws, rules and regulations, accreditation agencies such as the Joint Commission, as well as specialty and national nursing associations. The information that is provided in the language of the law may not be clear or relevant for every situation, but rather is a general picture of the legal responsibilities of the practitioner.
The information contained in the law, rule or regulation is interpreted by the department responsible for that area. For example, nursing laws in New York State are interpreted by the Office of the Professions and State Board of Nursing. Similar practices occur with accreditation agencies, associations, and facility policies. Facilities are bound by state law to produce policy and procedure that is accessible by all employees and is within current practice guidelines. For example Title 10, Part 405 regulations state that “Nursing care policies and procedures shall be written and consistent with generally accepted standards of nursing practice.”
The policies and procedures must be reflective of the standards of nursing practice in today’s world because that is what the facility and the registered nurse will be compared to in litigation.
Facility policy is often referred to as law because it is more stringent than the actual law rule or regulation it is reflecting. Facility policy must be adhered to but must also be within current practice standards.
While it is necessary to understand the impact of the law, rules and regulations on our daily practice, it is essential that nurses are aware of how or where to access documents needed to practice safely and within our scope or practice. Ask the individual whether the request is a facility-based policy and procedure or if it is a law, rule or regulation. This will assist us in helping you to clarify your responsibilities in an area of practice and whether you may also require assistance from a NYSNA representative as well. Never hesitate to call a nursing representative if you are unsure or concerned about your scope of practice in any given situation.
This is a sample of the questions NYSNA’s experts answer each day. The advice given is specific for the situation described and may not be applicable generally. If you have questions about your own work setting, it is recommended that you contact your NYSNA Nursing Representative or the Education, Practice, and Research Program, 11 Cornell Road, Latham, New York 12110-1499 or call 800-724-NYRN, ext. 282.