Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

What does Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) mean?

The licensed practical nurse is a practicing nurse who cares for the injured, sick or disabled under the direction of a physician or nurse. Due to the increased costs of medical care, doctors and hospitals are relying more heavily on nurses, licensed nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses to provide care for patients.

A licensed practical nurse performs a wide range of duties, all under the direction of a physician. The licensed practical nurses duties may include any duties which are considered less complicated and which may be done by a less skilled medical professional. Duties include taking a patient's pulse, temperature, respiration rate, measuring vital signs, dressing wounds, observing a patient's reactions to medications, teaching relatives how to care for a patient, administering intravenous medications and collecting fluid samples.

Regulations in each state determine the licensed practical nurses' duties and responsibilities. As with other medical professionals, a licensed practical nurse can be sued for medical malpractice if a claimant can prove the nurse was negligent or breached their professional duty and their negligence resulted in injury or damage to the patient. In most cases, medical malpractice case against a nurse requires the claimant to prove the nurse "failed to meet a standard of care or failure to deliver care that a reasonably prudent nurse would deliver in a similar situation."

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