Safety to Practice
One essential element of safe nursing practice is a nurse’s functional ability: the competence and reliability with which a nurse is able to practice at any given time.
The Board of Nursing is aware that nurses sometimes experience short or long term situations that may compromise the individual’s ability to safely practice nursing. Situations may include personal or job-related stress, sleep deprivation, episodic or persistent health conditions and any other unique circumstances affecting the person, some of which may require the use of prescription and/or non-prescription medications.
Whether a nurse should continue practicing nursing when the practice may be compromised depends upon the nurse’s functional ability to practice safely and effectively. The assessment of functional ability is an individualized process that does not lend itself to application of a set format based on select elements. On the contrary, assessment of functional ability requires active consideration of all relevant factors, such as diagnosis, prescribed treatment and situational events, as well as an evaluation of the impact of those factors on the individual being assessed.
Constant evaluation of one’s ability to safely and competently practice nursing is the responsibility of each individual nurse. Licensed nurses are accountable for assuring that their actions and behaviors meet all applicable standards for safe and competent practice at all times. This requires constant awareness of the demands of the job and a continual process of evaluation and assessment in order to assure that the nurse is fit to practice and competent to safely perform those functions that fall within the defined scope of nursing practice as they apply to each licensee and for which the nurse has accepted responsibility.
In some instances, it may be necessary for the employer and/or the Board of Nursing to require assessment and evaluation, using reliable methods administered by qualified licensed professionals. Practicing outside of the standards of practice may subject the licensee to disciplinary action by the Board of Nursing.
*Adapted from Idaho Board of Nursing.
Developed by Nurse Practice Committee 2006 with consultation and input from the staff of the following organizations: NDBME, NDBOP, NDDH, NDMA, NDHA, and NDLTCA.
American Nurses Association Position Statement: Assuring Patient Safety: Registered Nurses Responsibility in All Roles and Settings to Guard Against Working When Fatigued, December 2006.
American Nurses Association Position Statement: Assuring Patient Safety: The Employers’ Role in Promoting healthy Nursing Work Hours for Registered Nurses in All roles and Settings, December 2006.
Idaho Board of Nursing Position Statement: Position on Safety to Practice, April 2005.
Nebraska Board of Nursing Advisory Opinion: Safety to Practice: Functional Ability, January 2008.
Texas Board of Nursing Position Statement: duty of a Nurse in any Practice Setting, January 2008.
Adopted: May 2006