The role of nurses in modern society is extremely important because these people contribute to the quality of human life. In addition to a number of administrative tasks, activities, and ethical aspects, nursing practice is characterized by certain legal regulations. There are specific laws and levels of responsibility that aim to regulate prescriptive authority and autonomy. In this essay, the importance of knowledge about laws in regard to nursing practice in Florida and Alabama will be discussed to clarify the boundaries for nurses.
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Importance of Law Knowledge
Regarding recent improvements and regulations in nursing practice, it is critical for every nurse to know rules and laws. Depending on their duties, nurses must consider state practices and licensure laws to evaluate patients’ conditions, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose, and manage treatments (Ortiz et al., 2018). Prescription of medications and controlled substances is a significant responsibility of any nurse that may require a career-long collaboration with other healthcare providers.
Each state has its rules, and awareness of the law cannot be ignored in nursing practice. It is not enough for a nurse to have a solid theoretical background and understand what drugs can help or harm a patient. There are also many responsibilities that determine the quality of work and the consequences of the decisions made. In Florida Statutes, penalties for killing or attempts to killing are defined, and nurses can be punished accordingly in case their actions result in someone’s serious health complications or death (Toney-Butler & Martin, 2019). Therefore, knowing the specific laws in Florida is necessary even if a nurse practitioner (NP) prescribes medications for patients.
NP Prescribing Autonomy
The profession of a nurse practitioner is determined by specific practice guidelines, as well as laws and state legislation. If a person wants to have a good job and never break the law, practice restrictions must be recognized.
The National Council of State Nursing Board and the Institute of medicine are responsible for defining the levels of autonomy. In Florida, NPs can prescribe medications, but the level of their prescriptive autonomy is limited because physicians oversee all prescriptive aspects first. Restrictions of autonomy promote the increased quality of primary care (Poghosyan & Liu, 2016). To compare, Maryland is the state with high levels of autonomy with no restrictions, which enhances nurses’ motivation and self-confidence.
Sometimes, NPs may feel lost in the existing variety of laws and regulations that control their behaviors, decisions, and relationships in the workplace. At this moment, Florida has a new opioid law, according to which treatment of acute pain is allowed to three days only. The Florida Statutes underline the necessity for NPs to maintain written collaboration from physicians to prescribe controlled substances scheduled III-V and no collaboration for schedule II drugs (American Medical Association, 2017). The Nurse Practice Act defines duties and fees for NP in all the states, including Florida and Maryland (Toney-Butler & Martin, 2019). However, compared to Florida restrictions, Maryland NPs should have written approval only during the first 18 months of their practice.
There are no additional educational requirements for Florida NPs to obtain prescriptive authority. In case their protocols permit dispense medications, and they have the American Medical Association Physician’s Recognition Award (AMA PRA), Florida NPs register with the Board of Nursing and get access to controlled substances (American Medical Association, 2017). In Maryland, NPs must introduce their coursework in advanced pharmacology/pathophysiology/physical assessment and obtain a Maryland Drug control Number.
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In general, the connection between law and nursing cannot be neglected by nurses either in Florida, Maryland or any other state. The level of responsibility among NPs is high, regardless of their degrees and certification. Prescriptive autonomy and authority are important concepts in nursing practice. One should understand that the prescription of medications is not only a priority for nurses but a crucial step in providing care, improving health, and controlling diseases.
American Medical Association. (2017). State law chart: Nurse practitioner prescriptive authority. Web.
Ortiz, J., Hofler, R., Bushy, A., Lin, Y. L., Khanijahani, A., & Bitney, A. (2018). Impact of nurse practitioner practice regulations on rural population health outcomes. Healthcare, 6(2). Web.
Poghosyan, L., & Liu, J. (2016). Nurse practitioner autonomy and relationships with leadership affect teamwork in primary care practices: A cross-sectional survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 31(7), 771-777.
Toney-Butler, T. J., & Martin, R. L. (2019). Florida nursing laws and rules. Web.