Nursing Malpractice: Liability and Risk Management

By Charles C. Sharpe | Go to book overview
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15

Disciplinary Actions by State
Boards of Nursing under Nurse
Practice Acts

HISTORY OF NURSE PRACTICE ACTS

By the end of the first two decades of the twentieth century, a number of states had enacted laws requiring that nurses register with an appropriate state agency in order to be permitted to practice. These states included New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia. By 1923, each state had enacted a registration act. It is from these requirements that the designation [registered] nurse derives. Any nurse who filed the proper forms and paid the required fee was registered—no license per se was issued. However, it is from these early laws that mandatory licensing in each state also derives.

The first state to require that nurses be licensed as well as registered was New York, which passed the first licensing act in 1938. This represented the first formal amalgamation of law and nursing which recognized nursing, as a profession with concomitant legal rights and privileges granted, obligations and liabilities imposed, and sanctions and penalties prescribed. The stature of nursing was now enhanced by a statute of law. By 1952, every state had enacted a nurse practice act.

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