Please note that these statutes are provided in this format for your convenience only. You may always find the most current version of the Colorado Revised Statutes online via the Colorado Statute Manager.
- Articles 1 & 20: General Provisions
- Article 30: Provisions Applicable to Health Care Professions & Occupations
- Nurses and Nurse Aides Practice Act
- Psychiatric Technicians Practice Act
Scope of Practice Statements
The Board has developed the following statements for use in determining the scope of practice. Individual situations should be reviewed against these statements for verification of scope of practice.
- Scope of Practice for Registered Nurses (RNs)
In Colorado, the practice of professional nursing (including those listed on the advanced practice registry) includes the performance of both independent nursing functions and delegated medical functions. The Board of Nursing (BON) considers RNs to be independent practitioners. Two things limit the independent scope of nursing practice:
- Task/practice must be within the field of nursing, and
- RN must possess the specialized knowledge, judgment, and skill required to complete the job/task undertaken. There is no BON requirement for physician oversight of nurses during the course of independent nursing practice. However, individual facilities or physician practices may have policies requiring some level of physician involvement or oversight.
Dependent nursing function falls under delegated medical. The statute defines delegated medical function to include the RN implementation of a medical plan "a written plan, verbal order, standing order, or protocol - whether patient-specific or not, that authorizes specific or discretionary medical action, which may include but is not limited to the selection of medication." The amount of physician oversight would be determined by the physician and nurse involved in this process.
- Determining Your RN Scope of Practice
The Board of Nursing has been working to empower Colorado nurses to determine their own scopes of practice. Using the following guidelines, a nurse may decide what is within scope, and to make certain the task or practice is documented in facility or institution policies and procedures.
Ask the following question: Is this task/practice within my scope of practice?
- Was the skill/task taught in your basic nursing program?
- If it was not included in your basic nursing education, have you since completed a comprehensive training program that included clinical experience?
- Has this task become so routine in the nursing literature and in nursing practice (e.g. sharp wound debridement), it can be reasonably and prudently assumed within scope?
- Is the skill/task in your hiring agency policy and procedure manual?
- Does carrying out the duty pass the "Reasonable and Prudent" standard for nursing?
If you can answer "yes" to all the above questions, the task is within your scope of practice.
- Scope of Practice for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
The Nurse Practice Act defines the scope of practice of the licensed practical nurse (LPN) as that which is taught in schools of practical nursing in Colorado at this time. Therefore, all decisions regarding tasks that may be performed by an LPN are based on the present curriculum criteria. The LPN curriculum in Colorado is a 9 to 11-month course focusing on the care of patients with predictable outcomes. The curriculum emphasizes the maintenance of those patients and the performance of nursing skills with a high degree of technical expertise. The practical nursing student is taught to identify normal from abnormal in each of the body systems and to identify changes in the patient's condition, which are then reported to the RN or MD for further or "full" assessment.
For further information regarding the specific tasks and skills taught in the LPN curriculum, you may contact one of the many Colorado colleges offering an LPN program: