As with many medical professions, certified nursing assistants are regulated by state and federal laws. Unlike a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse, CNAs are unable to perform many health-related tasks. Failure to comply with the legal standards set forth for certified nursing assistants can lead to serious legal implications, such as losing your ability to work as a CNA or even imprisonment.
The following are general guidelines for the legal standards set forth for CNAs. These guidelines apply to both if you have taken CNA classes online or if you have taken a tradition program. As stated above, if you fail to obey these requirements, then you can face serious legal trouble. If ever you’re in doubt about a job function or your role within the nursing field, immediately stop what you’re doing and seek advice from your supervisor.
Tips for Avoiding Legal Issues as a CNA:
- Fully understand the scope of practice as outlined by your state and the federal government
- Do just the tasks you have been taught and cleared to perform; if you’re requested to do jobs you haven’t been educated to do request assistance and clarification from your superior
- Carry out all job duties exactly as you were trained; never attempt to pick up the slack and perform a duty that’s reserved for a registered nurse.
- Engage in continued education courses to remain current on industry trends and unique service demands.
- Ensure you fully understand what’s expected of you and how you can successfully accomplish your goals without overstepping your legal boundaries.
- Have a patient first mentality focused around doing no harm to your patient.
- Carefully monitor the security of all patient belongings ñ never remove an item from their room or space without the direct consent of the patient.
- Never accept gifts (either property or monetary) from patients.
Tips for Avoiding Theft Charges
While it may seem avoiding theft charges is a simple task for a CNA, but the unfortunate truth is many certified nursing assistants find themselves at the wrong end of a legal battle. In the most simplest of ways, utilizing any item that doesn’t actually belong to you is considered theft in the realm of CNAs and the medical community. It doesn’t matter what the item is.
The most effective tip is to never utilize, remove or take an item that doesn’t belong to you. This is true for patient items as well as any items that belong to your employer. If you’re in doubt, speak with your supervisor before rearranging or moving items. It’s best to be safe rather than sorry.
While the majority of CNAs will never face a patient assault charge, the truth of the matter is this charge is far easier to come across than one may think. In the most basic of terms, if you touch your patient without their permission or with the goal of intimidating the patient, you’re technically assaulting the patient. Unlike what many CNAs believe, an assault charge isn’t all about hitting or injuring the patient.
In order to avoid an assault charge, make sure every task that involves you touching or moving a patient is met with consent from the patient. Tell the patient exactly what you’re about to do and ask for permission. If the patient refuses your touch, immediately discuss the situation with your supervisor. There are occasions when a patient is unable to make consent due to cognitive disorders. If this is the case, then you’ll likely be accompanied by your supervisor during the procedure.