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The Role of an LPN in a Hospital

Career News July 23, 2013

Approximately 25% of all licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are employed at hospitals. In an ever-evolving healthcare system, issues will certainly develop and once recognized, need to be addressed. One such issue is the defining of accountability among the LPN and registered nurse (RN) staff.

Delegating Responsibility

When a LPN proved to be competent and trustworthy, RNs begin to delegate greater responsibilities, which in the right situation, can be the cause of malpractice litigation. Not necessarily due to incompetence, but because of a practice beyond the scope of the license. Defining the roles of the LPN and RN will provide the best possible care and outcome for patients.

Consult

The following organizations contributed in establishing the proper limits of accountability:

•Virginia’s Nurse Practice Act
American Nurses Association
National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses

Differentiated Roles of LPN and RN

The original definition reinstated, asserts that the LPN functions in a task-oriented capacity under the direction of the RN. The LPN is responsible for patient care, and functions as a member of the team providing information as to the planning and assessment of nursing care under the direction of the RN.

In conclusion, dynamic integration and the practice of shared governance enable the healthcare team to practice holistic nursing care using shared decision making. The result is better patient care when handled in a collaborative fashion while the accountability for such care remains with the RN.

Documentation Practices

For further enhancement of accountability and adherence, the charts have a new field. The LPN shall update the chart with the patient’s status every four-hours and include the duty RNs full name. The registered nurses name indicates who supervised the LPN during their shift.

LPN Duties

•The LPN shall endeavor to give exemplary healthcare to all patients regardless of color, creed or religious convictions.
•Their hands must be washed upon entering any patient’s room to prevent the spread of germs.
•A LPN takes vital signs to include height, weight, blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate.
•The LPN fills out the patient questionnaire concerning health issues in the past and present for use by the staff.
•A LPN is responsible for maintaining their assigned rooms in a sanitary condition at all times.
•They shall verify all meals are as prescribed by the staff.
•They shall check on the patient four times an hour and advise the RN on duty of any changes in status.
•The LPN will update the chart every 15 minutes and includes the name of the RN on duty whose instructions are followed.
•The LPN will collect and deliver samples to the lab as directed.
•They will show respect to all patients and observe the confidentiality as well.
•A LPN is the patient’s advocate to the staff.
•They will check pain levels on a regular basis and notify the RN of any changes.
•LPNs are responsible for the patient’s personal hygiene, making certain they brush their teeth and so on. Draining catheters, changing the gowns, giving showers or sponge bathing are all part of personal hygiene.
•A LPN must remain physically fit since the majority of their shift will be on their feet and lifting patients.
•LPNs must remain flexible. Work shifts can be long and include nights and weekends.
•LPNs must maintain good communications with the staff and patients.
•It is the job of each LPN to continue their education for advancement to RN.

Nurses account for over 2.7 million jobs, which makes them the largest profession in the U.S. It is growing so rapidly that it is projected to see a growth of over 26% by 2020. In 2012, the average salary ranged between $64,690 and $95,130.

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