NJSNA Legislative Successes

NJSNA Legislative Advocacy in Action

POLST

P.L. 2011, c.145. The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST, form complements an advance directive by converting a person’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment into a medical order. A completed POLST form is signed by the patient’s attending physician or advanced practice nurse, and provides a specific and detailed set of instructions for a health care professional or health care institution to follow in regard to the patient’s preference for the use of various medical interventions.

Whistleblower Law

P.L. 1997, c.98, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) applies to all New Jersey employers with more than 10 employees. In general, it prohibits employers from taking retaliatory employment action against employees who “blow the whistle” by reporting to supervisors or public authorities, corporate conduct that the employee reasonably believes violates the law.

Safety Needle Act

P.L. 1999, c.311, makes it mandatory for all New Jersey healthcare facilities to use needles and other medical devices that have built-in safety features to prevent blood exposures caused by needle-sticks. Examples of safety features include self-sheathing needles, blunt suture needles and needleless IV systems.

Safe Patient Handling Act

P.L. 2007, c.225, became law on January 3, 2010. It requires New Jersey’s hospitals, nursing homes, developmental centers and psychiatric hospitals to establish and implement safe patient handling programs to help protect patients and staff from injury.

Violence in Health Care Facilities Act

P.L. 2007, c.236, directs health care facilities in New Jersey, including general and specialty hospitals, nursing homes, state and county psychiatric hospitals and state developmental centers to create programs to combat physical violence or credible threats of violence against employees.

Public School Nursing Services Act

P.L. 1999, c.153, requires that public school nursing services be provided by a certified school nurse.

Pronouncement of Death Act

P.L. 2006, c.86, permits Registered Professional Nurses (RNs) in all settings to pronounce death and to sign that portion of the death certificate regarding pronouncement. The law does not authorize RNs to declare brain death nor to sign that portion of the death certificate attesting to the cause of death.

Alternative to Discipline Act

P.L. 2005, c.82, establishes an alternative to discipline program for nurses through the New Jersey Board of Nursing. This law allows chemically dependent or otherwise impaired nurses to engage in a recovery and monitoring program instead of automatically undergoing disciplinary procedures.

Advanced Practice Nurse Act

P.L. 2004, c.122, amends the original Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist Act of 1992 and its 1999 amendment (P.L. 1991, c.377; P.L. 1999, c.85) granting Advanced Practice Nurses full prescribing authority for all drugs and devices including controlled
substances in accordance with a Joint Protocol; and clarifies scope of practice and changes title from NP/CNS to APN.

Honorable Mention

Mandatory Overtime Law

P.L. 1966, c.300, amends Labor Law, and through parallel Mandatory Overtime Regulations (at N.J.A.C. 8:43E) prohibits acute and long term care facilities from using mandatory overtime to solve chronic short staffing problems. LPNs or RNs repeatedly asked to work more than an agreed-upon schedule, not to exceed 40 hours/week in situations, which do not meet the threshold of an unforeseen emergent circumstance, can report this to the Department of Labor which enforces the law.

Death Certification Bill (2015)

Authorizes an attending advanced practice nurse (APN) to determine and certify the cause of death of a patient and execute the death certification if no collaborating physician is available to do so and the APN is the patient’s primary caregiver.

Before the law took effect, APNs were permitted to make a determination and pronouncement of death (except in the case of brain death), but only physicians were authorized to determine the cause of death and certify the cause for the purpose of completing the death certificate. This law expanded the scope of practice for APNs to authorize them to determine and certify the cause of death when the APN is the patient’s primary caregiver.

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