CALIFORNIA NURSING PRACTICE ACT
The Nursing Practice Act (NPA) is the body of California law that mandates the Board to set out the scope of practice and responsibilities for RNs. The NPA is located in the California Business and Professions Code starting with Section 2700. Regulations which specify the implementation of the law appear in the California Code of Regulations.
Scope of Regulation
Excerpt from Business and Professions Code
Division 2, Chapter 6. Article 2
Section 2725. Legislative intent: Practice of Nursing Defined
2725. (a) In amending this section at the 1973-74 session, the Legislature recognizes that nursing is a dynamic field, the practice of which is continually evolving to include more sophisticated patient care activities. It is the intent of the Legislature in amending this section at the 1973-74 session to provide clear legal authority for functions and procedures that have common acceptance and usage. It is the legislative intent also to recognize the existence of overlapping functions between physicians and registered nurses and to permit additional sharing of functions within organized healthcare systems that provide for collaboration between physicians and registered nurses. These organized healthcare systems include, but are not limited to, health facilities licensed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code, clinics, home health agencies, physicians' offices, and public or community health services.
(b) The practice of nursing within the meaning of this chapter means those functions, including basic health care, that help people cope with difficulties in daily living that are associated with their actual or potential health or illness problems or the treatment thereof, and that require a substantial amount of scientific knowledge or technical skill, including all of the following:
(1) Direct and indirect patient care services that ensure the safety, comfort, personal hygiene, and protection of patients; and the performance of disease prevention and restorative measures.
(2) Direct and indirect patient care services, including, but not limited to, the administration of medications and therapeutic agents, necessary to implement a treatment, disease prevention, or rehabilitative regimen ordered by and within the scope of licensure of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or clinical psychologist, as defined by Section 1316.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(3) The performance of skin tests, immunization techniques, and the withdrawal of human blood from veins and arteries.
(4) Observation of signs and symptoms of illness, reactions to treatment, general behavior, or general physical condition, and (A) determination of whether the signs, symptoms, reactions, behavior, or
general appearance exhibit abnormal characteristics, and (B) implementation, based on observed abnormalities, of appropriate reporting, or referral, or standardized procedures, or changes in
treatment regimen in accordance with standardized procedures, or the initiation of emergency procedures.
(c) "Standardized procedures," as used in this section, means either of the following:
(1) Policies and protocols developed by a health facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code through collaboration among administrators and health professionals including physicians and nurses.
(2) Policies and protocols developed through collaboration among administrators and health professionals, including physicians and nurses, by an organized healthcare system which is not a health facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1250) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code. The policies and protocols shall be subject to any guidelines for standardized procedures that the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California and the Board of Registered Nursing may jointly promulgate. If promulgated, the guidelines shall be administered by the Board of Registered Nursing.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require approval of standardized procedures by the Division of Licensing of the Medical Board of California, or by the Board of Registered Nursing.
(e) No state agency other than the board may define or interpret the practice of nursing for those licensed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or develop standardized procedures or protocols pursuant to this chapter, unless so authorized by this chapter, or specifically required under state or federal statute. "State agency" includes every state office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, authority, and commission.
2725.1. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a registered nurse may dispense drugs or devices upon an order by a licensed physician and surgeon or an order by a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant issued pursuant to Section 2746.51, 2836.1, or 3502.1, respectively, if the registered nurse is functioning within a licensed primary care clinic as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1204 of, or within a clinic as defined in subdivision (b), (c), (h), or (j) of Section 1206 of, the Health and Safety Code.
(b) No clinic shall employ a registered nurse to perform dispensing duties exclusively. No registered nurse shall dispense drugs in a pharmacy, keep a pharmacy, open shop, or drugstore for the retailing of drugs or poisons. No registered nurse shall compound drugs. Dispensing of drugs by a registered nurse, except a certified nurse-midwife who functions pursuant to a standardized procedure or protocol described in Section 2746.51 or a nurse practitioner who functions pursuant to a standardized procedure described in Section 2836.1, or protocol, shall not include substances included in the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act (Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code). Nothing in this section shall exempt a clinic from the provisions of Article 13 (commencing with Section 4180) of Chapter 9.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit any other authority granted to a certified nurse-midwife pursuant to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 2746), to a nurse practitioner pursuant to Article 8 (commencing with Section 2834), or to a physician assistant pursuant to Chapter 7.7 (commencing with Section 3500).
(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the sites or types of healthcare facilities at which drugs or devices are authorized to be dispensed pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 4000).
2725.2. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a registered nurse may dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptives approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may administer injections of hormonal contraceptives approved by the FDA in strict adherence to standardized procedures developed in compliance with subdivision (c) of Section 2725.
(b) The standardized procedure described in subdivision (a) shall include all of the following:
(1) Which nurse, based on successful completion of training and competency assessment, may dispense or administer the hormonal contraceptives.
(2) Minimum training requirements regarding educating patients on medical standards for ongoing women's preventive health, contraception options education and counseling, properly eliciting,
documenting, and assessing patient and family health history, and utilization of the United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use.
(3) Demonstration of competency in providing the appropriate prior examination comprised of checking blood pressure, weight, and patient and family health history, including medications taken by the patient.
(4) Which hormonal contraceptives may be dispensed or administered under specified circumstances, utilizing the most recent version of the United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use.
(5) Criteria and procedure for identification, documentation, and referral of patients with contraindications for hormonal contraceptives and patients in need of a follow-up visit to a physician and surgeon, nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant.
(6) The extent of physician and surgeon supervision required.
(7) The method of periodic review of the nurse's competence.
(8) The method of periodic review of the standardized procedure, including, but not limited to, the required frequency of review and the person conducting that review.
(9) Adherence to subdivision (a) of Section 2242 in a manner developed through collaboration with health care providers, including physicians and surgeons, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and registered nurses. The appropriate prior examination shall be consistent with the evidence-based practice guidelines adopted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the United States Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use.
(10) If a patient has been seen exclusively by a registered nurse for three consecutive years, the patient shall be evaluated by a physician and surgeon, nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant prior to continuing the dispensation or administration of hormonal contraceptives.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the sites or types of healthcare facilities at which drugs or devices are authorized to be dispensed pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 4000).
2725.3. (a) A health facility licensed pursuant to subdivision (a), (b), or (f), of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code shall not assign unlicensed personnel to perform nursing functions in lieu of a registered nurse and may not allow unlicensed personnel to perform functions under the direct clinical supervision of a registered nurse that require a substantial amount of scientific knowledge and technical skills, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
(1) Administration of medication.
(2) Venipuncture or intravenous therapy.
(3) Parenteral or tube feedings.
(4) Invasive procedures including inserting nasogastric tubes, inserting catheters, or tracheal suctioning.
(5) Assessment of patient condition.
(6) Educating patients and their families concerning the patient's health care problems, including post-discharge care.
(7) Moderate complexity laboratory tests.
(b) This section shall not preclude any person from performing any act or function that he or she is authorized to perform pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) or pursuant to existing statute or regulation as of July 1, 1999.
2725.4 Abortion by aspiration techniques; Requirements
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the following shall apply:
(a) In order to perform an abortion by aspiration techniques pursuant to Section 2253, a person with a license or certificate to practice as a nurse practitioner or a certified nurse-midwife shall complete training recognized by the Board of registered Nursing. Beginning January 1, 2014, and until January 1, 2016, the competency-based training protocols established by Health Workforce Pilot Project (HWPP) No. 171 through the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development shall be used.
(b) In order to perform an abortion by aspiration techniques pursuant to Section 2253, a person with a license or certificate to practice as a nurse practitioner or a certified nurse-midwife shall adhere to standardized procedures developed in compliance with subdivision(c) of Section 2725 that specify all of the following:
1. The extent of supervision by a physician and surgeon with relevant training and expertise.
2. Procedures for transferring patients to the care of the physician and surgeon or a hospital
3. Procedures for obtaining assistance and consultation from a physician and surgeon.
4. Procedures for providing emergency care until physician assistance and consultation are available.
5. The method of periodic review of the provisions of the standardized procedures
(c) A nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife who has completed training and achieved clinical competency through HWPP No. 171 shall be authorized to perform abortions by aspiration techniques pursuant to Section 2253 without prior completion of training and validation of clinical competency.
2725.5. "Advanced practice registered nurse" means those licensed registered nurses who have met the requirements of Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 2746), Article 7 (commencing with Section 2825), Article 8 (commencing with Section 2834), or Article 9 (commencing with Section 2838).
2726. Except as otherwise provided herein, this chapter confers no authority to practice medicine or surgery.
2727. This chapter does not prohibit:
(a) Gratuitous nursing of the sick by friends or members of the family.
(b) Incidental care of the sick by domestic servants or by persons primarily employed as housekeepers as long as they do not practice nursing within the meaning of this chapter.
(c) Domestic administration of family remedies by any person.
(d) Nursing services in case of an emergency. "Emergency," as used in this subdivision includes an epidemic or public disaster.
(e) The performance by any person of such duties as required in the physical care of a patient and/or carrying out medical orders prescribed by a licensed physician; provided, such person shall not in any way assume to practice as a professional, registered, graduate or trained nurse.
2727.5. A person licensed under this chapter who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency which occurs outside both the place and the course of that person's employment shall not be liable for any civil damages as the result of acts or omissions by that person in rendering the emergency care.
This section shall not grant immunity from civil damages when the person is grossly negligent.
2728. If adequate medical and nursing supervision by a professional nurse or nurses is provided, nursing service may be given by attendants, psychiatric technicians, or psychiatric technician interim permittees in institutions under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services or subject to visitation by the State Department of Public Health or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Services so given by a psychiatric technician shall be limited to services which he or she is authorized to perform by his or her license as a psychiatric technician. Services so given by a psychiatric technician interim permittee shall be limited to skills included in his or her basic course of study and performed under the supervision of a licensed psychiatric technician or registered nurse.
The Director of State Hospitals, the Director of Developmental Services, and the State Public Health Officer shall determine what shall constitute adequate medical and nursing supervision in any institution under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services or subject to visitation by the State Department of Public Health.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, institutions under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services may utilize graduates of accredited psychiatric technician training programs who are not licensed psychiatric technicians or psychiatric technician interim permittees to perform skills included in their basic course of study when supervised by a licensed psychiatric technician or registered nurse, for a period not to exceed nine months.
2728.5. Except for those provisions of law relating to directors of nursing services, nothing in this chapter or any other provision of law shall prevent the utilization of a licensed psychiatric technician or psychiatric technician interim permittee in performing services used in the care, treatment, and rehabilitation of mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, or developmentally disabled persons within the scope of practice for which he or she is licensed or authorized in facilities under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services or licensed by the State Department of Public Health, that he or she is licensed to perform as a psychiatric technician, or authorized to perform as a psychiatric technician interim permittee including any nursing services under Section 2728, in facilities under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services or subject to visitation by the State Department of Public Health.
2729. Nursing services may be rendered by a student when these services are incidental to the course of study of one of the following:
(a) A student enrolled in a board-approved prelicensure program or school of nursing.
(b) A nurse licensed in another state or country taking a board-approved continuing education course or a post-licensure course.
2730. If he does not represent or hold himself out as a professional nurse licensed to practice in this State and if he has an engagement, made in another State or country, requiring him to accompany and care for a patient temporarily residing in this State during the period of such engagement, a nurse legally qualified by another State or country may give nursing care to such patient in this State.
2731. This chapter does not prohibit nursing or the care of the sick, with or without compensation or personal profit, when done by the adherents of and in connection with the practice of the religious tenets of any well recognized church or denomination, so long as they do not otherwise engage in the practice of nursing.
2732. No person shall engage in the practice of nursing, as defined in Section 2725, without holding a license which is in an active status issued under this chapter except as otherwise provided in this act.
Every licensee may be known as a registered nurse and may place the letter "R. N." after his name.
2732.05. (a) Every employer of a registered nurse, every employer of a registered nurse required to hold any board-issued certification, and every person acting as an agent for such a nurse in obtaining employment, shall ascertain that the nurse is currently authorized to practice as a registered nurse or as a registered nurse pursuant to a board-issued certification within the provisions of this chapter. As used in this section, "board-issued certification" includes, but is not limited to, certification as a nurse practitioner, nurse practitioner with a furnishing number, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse midwife with a furnishing number, public health nurse, clinical nurse specialist, or board listed psychiatric mental health nurse.
(b) Every employer of a temporary licensee or interim permittee and every person acting as an agent for a temporary licensee or interim permittee in obtaining employment shall ascertain that the person is currently authorized to practice as a temporary licensee or interim permittee.
(c) As used in this section, the term "agent" includes, but is not limited to, a nurses’ registry and a traveling nurse agency.
Examination by an employer or agent of evidence satisfactory to the board showing the nurse's, licensee's, or permittee's current authority to practice under this chapter, prior to employment, shall constitute a determination of authority to so practice.
Nothing in this section shall apply to a patient, or other person acting for a specific patient, who engages the services of a registered nurse or temporary licensee to provide nursing care to a single patient.
2732.1. (a) An applicant for license by examination shall submit a written application in the form prescribed by the board.
Upon approval of the application, the board may issue an interim permit authorizing the applicant to practice nursing pending the results of the first licensing examination following completion of his or her nursing course or for a maximum period of six months, whichever occurs first.
If the applicant passes the examination, the interim permit shall remain in effect until a regular renewable license is issued by the board. If the applicant fails the examination, the interim permit shall terminate upon notice thereof by first-class mail.
(b) The board upon written application may issue a license without examination to any applicant who is licensed or registered as a nurse in a state, district or territory of the United States or Canada having, in the opinion of the board, requirements for licensing or registration equal to or higher than those in California at the time the application is filed with the Board of Registered Nursing, if he or she has passed an examination for the license or registration that is, in the board's opinion, comparable to the board's examination, and if he or she meets all the other requirements set forth in Section 2736.
(c) Each application shall be accompanied by the fee prescribed by this chapter for the filing of an application for a regular renewable license.
The interim permit shall terminate upon notice thereof by first-class mail, if it is issued by mistake or if the application for permanent licensure is denied.
2733. (a) Upon approval of an application filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 2732.1, and upon the payment of the fee prescribed by subdivision (k) of Section 2815, the board may issue a temporary license to practice professional nursing, and a temporary certificate to practice as a certified nurse midwife, certified nurse practitioner, certified public health nurse, certified clinical nurse specialist, or certified nurse anesthetist for a period of six months from the date of issuance. A temporary license or temporary certificate shall terminate upon notice thereof by certified mail, return receipt requested, if it is issued by mistake or if the application for permanent licensure is denied.
(b) Upon written application, the board may reissue a temporary license or temporary certificate to any person who has applied for a regular renewable license pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 2732.1 and who, in the judgment of the board has been excusably delayed in completing his or her application for or the minimum requirements for a regular renewable license, but the board may not reissue a temporary license or temporary certificate more than twice to any one person.
2734. Upon application in writing to the board and payment of the biennial renewal fee, a licensee may have his license placed in an inactive status for an indefinite period of time. A licensee whose license is in an inactive status may not practice nursing. However, such a licensee does not have to comply with the continuing education standards of Section 2811.5.
2736. (a) An applicant for licensure as a registered nurse shall comply with each of the following:
(1) Have completed such general preliminary education requirements as shall be determined by the board.
(2) Have successfully completed the courses of instruction prescribed by the board for licensure, in a program in this state accredited by the board for training registered nurses, or have successfully completed courses of instruction in a school of nursing outside of this state which, in the opinion of the board at the time the application is filed with the Board of Registered Nursing, are equivalent to the minimum requirements of the board for licensure established for an accredited program in this state.
(3) Not be subject to denial of licensure under Section 480.
(b) An applicant who has received his or her training from a school of nursing in a country outside the United States and who has complied with the provisions of subdivision (a), or has completed training equivalent to that required by subdivision (a), shall qualify for licensure by successfully passing the examination prescribed by the board.
2736.1. (a) The course of instruction for an applicant who matriculates on or after September 1, 1985, shall include training in the detection and treatment of alcohol and chemical substance dependency.
(b) The course of instruction for an applicant who matriculates on or after January 1, 1995, shall include training in the detection and treatment of client abuse, including, but not limited to, spousal or partner abuse. The requirement for coursework in spousal or partner abuse detection and treatment shall be satisfied by, and the board shall accept in satisfaction of the requirement, a certification from the chief academic officer of the educational institution from which the applicant graduated that the required coursework is included within the institution's required curriculum for graduation.
2736.5. (a) Any person who has served on active duty in the medical corps of any of the Armed Forces of the United States and who has successfully completed the course of instruction required to qualify him or her for rating as a medical service technician—independent duty, or other equivalent rating in his particular branch of the Armed Forces, and whose service in the Armed Forces has been under honorable conditions, may submit the record of such training to the board for evaluation.
(b) If such person meets the qualifications of paragraphs (1) and (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 2736, and if the board determines that his or her education would give reasonable assurance of competence to practice as a registered nurse in this state, he or she shall be granted a license upon passing the standard examination for such licensure.
(c) The board shall, by regulation, establish criteria for evaluating the education of applicants under this section.
(d) The board shall maintain records of the following categories of applicants under this section:
(1) Applicants who are rejected for examination, and the areas of such applicants' preparation which are the causes of rejection.
(2) Applicants who are qualified by their military education alone to take the examination, and the results of their examinations.
(3) Applicants who are qualified to take the examination by their military education plus supplementary education, and the results of their examinations.
(e) The board shall attempt to contact by mail or other means individuals meeting the requirements of subdivision (a) who have been or will be discharged or separated from the Armed Forces of the United States, in order to inform them of the application procedure provided by this section. The board may enter into an agreement with the federal government in order to secure the names and addresses of such individuals.
2736.6. The board shall determine by regulation the additional preparation in nursing, in a school approved by the board, which is required for a vocational nurse, licensed under Chapter 6.5 (commencing with Section 2840) of this division, to be eligible to take the examination for licensure under this chapter as a registered nurse. The board shall not require more than 30 units in nursing and related science subjects to satisfy such preparation.
2737. An applicant for a license authorizing him to practice nursing in this State under this chapter, upon the filing of his application shall pay the fee required by this chapter.
2738. The board shall hold not less than two examinations each year at such times and places as the board may determine.
2740. Examinations shall be written, but in the discretion of the board may be supplemented by an oral or practical examination in such subjects as the board determines. All examinations shall be conducted by such persons and in such manner and under such rules and regulations as the board may prescribe.
The board shall finally pass or reject all applicants. Its actions shall be final and conclusive and not subject to review by any court or other authority.
2741. An application for reexamination shall be accompanied by the fees prescribed by this chapter.
2742. The board shall issue a license to each applicant who passes the examination and meets all other licensing requirements. The form of the license shall be determined in accordance with Section 164.