Must a RN sign behind or "co-sign" nursing actions performed by a LVN?
In general, BON staff does not recommend a nurse co-sign anything unless he/she has directly witnessed an act ( such as narcotic wastage) or has gone behind another nurse and personally performed the same assessment with the same findings. As discussed above, each licensed nurse is responsible for accepting assignments that are within the educational preparation, experience, knowledge, and physical and emotional ability of the individual nurse [Rule 217.11(1)(T)]. Both LVNs and RNs are required to document the nursing care they render; each is held accountable for doing it accurately and completely.
The question of a RN co-signing after a LVN most often arises in situations when an attempt is made to expand the LVN’s scope of practice by holding the RN responsible for expanded tasks performed by the LVN. The RN co-signing for something that is beyond the LVN’s scope of practice does not legitimize the LVN’s actions. A nurse never functions “under the license” of another nurse. Therefore, if a patient requires a comprehensive assessment performed by a RN, the assignment (or a portion thereof) may not be given to a LVN. If such an assignment is inadvertently given to a LVN, he/she is responsible for notifying the nurse who made the assignment that it is beyond his/her scope of practice to perform the assigned task. Each nurse has a duty to maintain client safety [217.11(1)(B)] that includes communication with appropriate personnel. Position Statement 15.14, Duty of a Nurse in Any Setting, further explains a nurse’s duty to a client.