ADVICE, P.R.N.: Who's in charge here?

February 2005 
Volume 35  Number 2
Pages 14 - 14
  PDF Version Available!

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 35(2)             February 2005             p 14 Who's in charge here? [ADVICE, P.R.N.: LPN SUPERVISING RN]

At some nursing homes, including the one where I work, the trend is to put an LPN in charge as facility supervisor, even when RNs are on duty. I'm wondering what would happen if the LPN supervisor responded to an emergency herself, rather than directing an RN on duty to take over—even though the RN might be better qualified to intervene. What does your legal consultant say? —S.P., N.C.

She says the situation you describe is both poor practice and at odds with the law. Most nurse practice acts specify that RNs supervise LPNs, not vice versa. Employers can't disregard the law to suit their convenience or their budget. If a patient were harmed in the circumstances you describe, the patient or his family could sue the LPN ...

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