Delegation of Nursing Acts to Unlicensed Persons


Can you answer the following questions?

  • Would you be able to discuss the role of nurses in delegating nursing acts to unlicensed personnel who assist in the delivery of nursing care to patients?

  • Can you define the term "delegation" as it relates to nursing practice?

  • When you delegate to others, are you doing so according to the Kentucky laws that govern delegation?

  • Are you aware of your responsibility and accountability when you supervise and delegate nursing tasks to others?

  • Are you aware that indirect delegation (such as the performance of tasks listed in a nurse aide job description) does not alter the responsibility of the nurse for appropriately assigning and supervising the unlicensed persons performing the tasks?

  • Are you aware that a nurse who delegates a nursing task and/or who participates in the utilization of an unlicensed person in violation of Kentucky laws is acting in a manner inconsistent with the practice of nursing and is subject to disciplinary action?

If you have a problem answering any of the questions listed above, then you need to find out more about the delegation of nursing tasks.  Please see the information provided below.

Responsibility & Accountability of Nurses

The Kentucky Nursing Laws, KRS Chapter 314.011(2), defines delegation as . . . directing a competent person to perform a selected nursing activity or task in a selected situation under the nurse's supervision and pursuant to administrative regulations promulgated by the board . . . . 

Kentucky Administrative Regulation 201 KAR 20:400, Delegation of nursing acts to unlicensed persons, was implemented in 1993 and revised in 1999.  This administrative regulation identifies the criteria nurses are required to utilize in determining whether to delegate a task to an unlicensed person, and the degree of supervision that must be provided.  This regulation further identifies that the individual nurse retains the responsibility and accountability for the nursing care of the client, including assessment, planning, evaluation, and assuring documentation.

The Decision Tree for Delegation to UAP [PDF Format - 53k] may be used to assist the nurse in determining if an act should be delegated.

KBN's Advisory Opinion Statement #15 [PDF Format - 464k], entitled Roles of Nurses in the Supervision and Delegation of Nursing Acts to Unlicensed Personnel, originally issued in 1987, continues to serve as a guideline for nurses on the supervision and delegation of tasks to unlicensed personnel who provide nursing assistance.