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18.79.250  <<  18.79.260 >>   18.79.270

RCW 18.79.260

Registered nurse — Activities allowed — Delegation of tasks.

(1) A registered nurse under his or her license may perform for compensation nursing care, as that term is usually understood, to individuals with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities.

     (2) A registered nurse may, at or under the general direction of a licensed physician and surgeon, dentist, osteopathic physician and surgeon, naturopathic physician, optometrist, podiatric physician and surgeon, physician assistant, osteopathic physician assistant, advanced registered nurse practitioner, or midwife acting within the scope of his or her license, administer medications, treatments, tests, and inoculations, whether or not the severing or penetrating of tissues is involved and whether or not a degree of independent judgment and skill is required. Such direction must be for acts which are within the scope of registered nursing practice.

     (3) A registered nurse may delegate tasks of nursing care to other individuals where the registered nurse determines that it is in the best interest of the patient.

     (a) The delegating nurse shall:

     (i) Determine the competency of the individual to perform the tasks;

     (ii) Evaluate the appropriateness of the delegation;

     (iii) Supervise the actions of the person performing the delegated task; and

     (iv) Delegate only those tasks that are within the registered nurse's scope of practice.

     (b) A registered nurse, working for a home health or hospice agency regulated under chapter 70.127 RCW, may delegate the application, instillation, or insertion of medications to a registered or certified nursing assistant under a plan of care.

     (c) Except as authorized in (b) or (e) of this subsection, a registered nurse may not delegate the administration of medications. Except as authorized in (e) of this subsection, a registered nurse may not delegate acts requiring substantial skill, and may not delegate piercing or severing of tissues. Acts that require nursing judgment shall not be delegated.

     (d) No person may coerce a nurse into compromising patient safety by requiring the nurse to delegate if the nurse determines that it is inappropriate to do so. Nurses shall not be subject to any employer reprisal or disciplinary action by the nursing care quality assurance commission for refusing to delegate tasks or refusing to provide the required training for delegation if the nurse determines delegation may compromise patient safety.

     (e) For delegation in community-based care settings or in-home care settings, a registered nurse may delegate nursing care tasks only to registered or certified nursing assistants or home care aides certified under chapter 18.88B RCW. Simple care tasks such as blood pressure monitoring, personal care service, diabetic insulin device set up, verbal verification of insulin dosage for sight-impaired individuals, or other tasks as defined by the nursing care quality assurance commission are exempted from this requirement.

     (i) "Community-based care settings" includes: Community residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, certified by the department of social and health services under chapter 71A.12 RCW; adult family homes licensed under chapter 70.128 RCW; and assisted living facilities licensed under chapter 18.20 RCW. Community-based care settings do not include acute care or skilled nursing facilities.

     (ii) "In-home care settings" include an individual's place of temporary or permanent residence, but does not include acute care or skilled nursing facilities, and does not include community-based care settings as defined in (e)(i) of this subsection.

     (iii) Delegation of nursing care tasks in community-based care settings and in-home care settings is only allowed for individuals who have a stable and predictable condition. "Stable and predictable condition" means a situation in which the individual's clinical and behavioral status is known and does not require the frequent presence and evaluation of a registered nurse.

     (iv) The determination of the appropriateness of delegation of a nursing task is at the discretion of the registered nurse. Other than delegation of the administration of insulin by injection for the purpose of caring for individuals with diabetes, the administration of medications by injection, sterile procedures, and central line maintenance may never be delegated.

     (v) When delegating insulin injections under this section, the registered nurse delegator must instruct the individual regarding proper injection procedures and the use of insulin, demonstrate proper injection procedures, and must supervise and evaluate the individual performing the delegated task weekly during the first four weeks of delegation of insulin injections. If the registered nurse delegator determines that the individual is competent to perform the injection properly and safely, supervision and evaluation shall occur at least every ninety days thereafter.

     (vi)(A) The registered nurse shall verify that the nursing assistant or home care aide, as the case may be, has completed the required core nurse delegation training required in chapter 18.88A or 18.88B RCW prior to authorizing delegation.

     (B) Before commencing any specific nursing tasks authorized to be delegated in this section, a home care aide must be certified pursuant to chapter 18.88B RCW and must comply with RCW 18.88B.070.

     (vii) The nurse is accountable for his or her own individual actions in the delegation process. Nurses acting within the protocols of their delegation authority are immune from liability for any action performed in the course of their delegation duties.

     (viii) Nursing task delegation protocols are not intended to regulate the settings in which delegation may occur, but are intended to ensure that nursing care services have a consistent standard of practice upon which the public and the profession may rely, and to safeguard the authority of the nurse to make independent professional decisions regarding the delegation of a task.

     (f) The nursing care quality assurance commission may adopt rules to implement this section.

     (4) Only a person licensed as a registered nurse may instruct nurses in technical subjects pertaining to nursing.

     (5) Only a person licensed as a registered nurse may hold herself or himself out to the public or designate herself or himself as a registered nurse.

[2012 c 164 § 407; 2012 c 13 § 3; 2012 c 10 § 37; 2009 c 203 § 1; 2008 c 146 § 11; 2003 c 140 § 2; 2000 c 95 § 3; 1995 1st sp.s. c 18 § 51; 1995 c 295 § 1; 1994 sp.s. c 9 § 426.]

Notes:

     Reviser's note: This section was amended by 2012 c 10 § 37, 2012 c 13 § 3, and by 2012 c 164 § 407, each without reference to the other. All amendments are incorporated in the publication of this section under RCW 1.12.025(2). For rule of construction, see RCW 1.12.025(1).

     Finding -- Intent -- Rules -- Effective date -- 2012 c 164: See notes following RCW 18.88B.010.

     Application -- 2012 c 10: See note following RCW 18.20.010.

     Findings -- Intent -- Severability -- 2008 c 146: See notes following RCW 74.41.040.

     Effective date -- 2003 c 140: See note following RCW 18.79.040.

     Conflict with federal requirements -- Severability -- Effective date -- 1995 1st sp.s. c 18: See notes following RCW 74.39A.030.

     Effective date -- 1995 c 295: "This act shall take effect August 1, 1996." [1995 c 295 § 4.]