Essential function of an ER nurse?


The obvious come to mind: assessment, lifting, medication administration, documentation, education, etc. But in an environment in which it is commonplace for nursing technicians, paramedic students (once competency has been demonstrated), and other individuals that hospital policy allows to obtain peripheral intravenous access or obtain venous samples via straight stick needle, are IV placement and phlebotomy tasks ESSENTIAL job functions of an ER nurse? Given that many state nurse practice acts detail and specifically name task delegation of appropriate nursing care functions to qualified, unlicensed personnel, do the physical actions of obtaining peripheral vascular access and venous samples constitute an "essential job function" of an ER nurse; or is the ER nurse's essential job function in regards to IV placement/venipuncture to verify its satisfactory completion, whether by the nurse them self or other appropriate care provider?

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

165 Articles; 21,209 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 31 years experience.

It's not the technical skill that's in question, its the assessment of the NEED for vascular access.


34 Posts

It depends...

After working in the ER for a few months I can tell you, the answer for you Q has to do a lot w/ the specific place you work at & the organization's culture. You're right, there are other people that can help you get IV access, but on a busy day, when the sickest of sick roll in through those doors, sometimes you work almost alone, your paramedic/tech caught up helping some other nurse that might need it more than you. If your pt needs an IV now, you're the one that has to do it.

I understand the passion for working in the ER, but If you can't do IV's, why not just go to a different specialty that can accommodate that?

(I understand this Q was posted a while back, but thought other ppl might still benefit reading more answers to it...)

Good luck!

Specializes in Emergency.

five_apples, I completely understand your point, and agree that sometimes there isn't anyone available to start an IV, draw blood, draw an ABG, etc. My issue was never that I couldn't do any of those things; it was actually the opposite. I knew that I'd be able to start IVs and everything else despite residual weakness in my hand from CRPS, but it was my former employer who decided that I couldn't do those things. Oddly enough, I've had absolutely no problem with IVs and manual dexterity in my new job despite a recent CRPS Sx recurrence (being treated successfully with steroids and Elavil).


34 Posts

Well, we already know that some bosses are jerks. Your story just stresses that point even more :)

I hope you found a better unit w/ better attitudes in the management level & that you're happy!