LVN Scope of Practice in California


Licensed practice nurses (LPN) or else referred to as Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in CA and TX are nurse professionals who assist registered nurses and other senior medical staff. They carry-out patient based duties like recording of vital signs e.g. blood sugar levels, temperature, blood pressure and taking care of patients hygiene.

It is worth noting that LVNs/LPNs in any state have laws that govern what they are legally allowed to do in their line of duty. It is not uncommon to find LVNs/LPNs carrying out duties that belong to RNs but which are not stipulated in their states board of nursing. In all cases though, LVNs are supposed to undertake all their duties under the supervision of a Registered nurse of physician.

Laws Governing LVN Scope of Practice in California

According to the bureau of labor and statistics, California is among the top ten highly paying states for licensed vocational nurses in US. This record translates to a huge influx of LVNs seeking reciprocity from other states to work in California.

The LVN scope of practice in California is outlined by the Board of Vocational nurses and Psychiatric Technicians: which is under the department of consumer affairs of the state of CA. These clearly written documents governing the practice of LVNs are known as the Business and Profession Code-Sections 2859 to 2873.

Definition of LVN by The State of CA

The board recognizes one as a vocational nurse only if you have taken a course in practical nursing from an accredited nursing school and thereafter licensed as a LVN. In addition, the state of CA gives the meaning of a LVN as one who has met all stipulated requirements  for licensure as a VN and thereof receives compensation from his/her practice under the tag of a LVN.

Permissible Practices for LVNs in CA

According to the business code of ethics 2859, under the supervision of a doctor, a licensed vocational nurse in California will have mandate to undertake the following:

i)        Have ability to give medication via hypodermics injections and oral admin

ii)      Have the capacity to draw blood from a patient but only if they have priory been instructed to do so by a RN or a physician. The code continues to stipulate that such an activity can only happen if the LVN has shown competence to the doctor in blood drawing or has successfully completed a course in that area from an accredited school.

iii)    Is given the capacity to start and continue to give intravenous fluids medications but only if they have competed a credit in such IV activity.

iv)    The LVN will, under the supervision of a RN or physician, have the authorization to carry out skin tests . Such mandate will include doing TB, histoplasm or coccidioidin tests and as usual, only possible if the LVN has recorded course coverage on the said tests.

v)      Will have permission to give immunizations if they are able to demonstrate to the supervising RN the knowledge of emergency reactions and remediation of the same following immunization with such agents.

vi)    Any individual who has served in the military as a medical corp. will be, after application given the license as a LVN as long they have good and honorable conditions to show during their service at the military. Such individuals must have served in the foresaid government institution for not less than 12 months and are able to sit and pass the NCLEX-LVN exam.

vii)  Any LVN who, in good faith offers to help in emergency situations where nursing skills are required will be not be held liable for any civil damages inherent from such offering. This applies to any LVN who decides to render such emergency services outside their usual place of work.

viii)            Anyone can practice as a VN in CA in settings similar to those of religious establishments. But such individual doing such voluntary work, have no legal entitlements to be called LVNs if they do not possess a license approved by the board.

Unauthorized Practices for LVNs in California

The LVN scope of practice in California has various limitations. As outlined by the business code of ethics of California, no one practicing under the title and license of a LVN will undertake the following:

i)        Have the authority to practice medicine and related surgical procedures

ii)      Will not undertake or independently without the consultation of a doctor get involved in treatment of mental, pain, physical injury or diseases. Undertaking such activities will be outright violation of the provided CA LVN laws.

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