Safe harbor

by lisieux lisieux (New) New

I'm a new nurse to PA and am trying to learn about the rules and regulations in PA. I was wondering if PA has anything for safe harbor? (Or is there anything to protect you if you are given an unsafe assignment?) Thanks!!

Ginger27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Postpartum. Has 2 years experience.

Following this!


Specializes in retired LTC.

This post is 11 yrs old & was unanswered. The OP hasn't been back since.

There have been some other posts re 'safe harbor' here. Just know it is not some type of 'free pass card'. You notify your 'higher ups' BEFORE you accept your assignment and you put it in writing. You perform your assignment 'under protest' to the best of your ability.

Bottom line is you do the assignment as assigned. To my knowledge, used to be only TX (and ?) had a real law, but I believe all states require some kind of mechanism re  'safe harbor'. It is a serious undertaking - not one to be 'joked about' or threatened (there was a 2019/2020 recent post here where the nurse caught trouble for threatening her employer). Nsg admin must respond with a decision.

Just research here; I remember a posting by the Commuter and NrsKaren . Easy to look up.


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Only Texas and New Mexico Boards of Nursing have safe harbor provisions as part of state law.

Safe harbor provisions in nurse practice acts are for nurses to resolve situations that they believe are unsafe or violate their duty to advocate for and protect the patient.  Nurses who accept or make assignments must consider patient safety.  Nurses may be afraid to invoke Safe Harbor for fear of retaliation by a fellow nurse, a nursing supervisor, or the organization. Comprehensive review of the Safe Harbor provision is essential for all nurses. An employer or supervisor cannot deny a nurse the right to invoke Safe Harbor whether the nurse accepts or refuses the assignment.   Safe harbor is a process that protects a nurse from
discipline by the Board and retaliation, suspension, termination, discipline, or discrimination from the employer for invoking safe harbor in good faith.


Specializes in retired LTC.

NrsKaren - TY for responding. Sadly, there's a lot of misunderstanding re the invocation/application of Safe Harbor by so many.


Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

Camp nursing not leaving much free time till today.   Tofoolowup

PA Nursing Regulations does have some regulations that can be used for turning down an unsafe assignment.



§ 21.11. General functions.



 (a)  The registered nurse assesses human responses and plans, implements and evaluates nursing care for individuals or families for whom the nurse is responsible. In carrying out this responsibility, the nurse performs all of the following functions:

   (1)  Collects complete and ongoing data to determine nursing care needs.

   (2)  Analyzes the health status of the individuals and families and compares the data with the norm when possible in determining nursing care needs.

   (3)  Identifies goals and plans for nursing care.

   (4)  Carries out nursing care actions which promote, maintain and restore the well-being of individuals.

   (5)  Involves individuals and their families in their health promotion, maintenance and restoration.

   (6)  Evaluates the effectiveness of the quality of nursing care provided.

 (b)  The registered nurse is fully responsible for all actions as a licensed nurse and is accountable to clients for the quality of care delivered.

 (c)  The registered nurse may not engage in areas of highly specialized practice without adequate knowledge of and skills in the practice areas involved.

 (d)  The Board recognizes standards of practice and professional codes of behavior, as developed by appropriate nursing associations, as the criteria for assuring safe and effective practice.


§ 21.18. Standards of nursing conduct.

 (a)  A registered nurse shall:



   (1)  Undertake a specific practice only if the registered nurse has the necessary knowledge, preparation, experience and competency to properly execute the practice.

   (2)  Respect and consider, while providing nursing care, the individual’s right to freedom from psychological and physical abuse.

   (3)  Act to safeguard the patient from the incompetent, abusive or illegal practice of any individual.

   (4)  Safeguard the patient’s dignity, the right to privacy and the confidentiality of patient information. This standard does not prohibit or affect reporting responsibilities under 23 Pa.C.S. Chapter 63 (relating to the Child Protective Services Law), the Older Adults Protective Services Act (35 P.S. § §  10211—10224) and other statutes which may mandate reporting of this information.

   (5)  Document and maintain accurate records.

 (b)  A registered nurse may not:

   (1)  Knowingly aid, abet or assist another person to violate or circumvent a law or Board regulation.

   (2)  Discriminate, while providing nursing services, on the basis of age, marital status, sex, sexual preference, race, religion, diagnosis, socioeconomic status or disability.

   (3)  Knowingly permit another individual to use his license or temporary permit for any purpose or knowingly permit the unlicensed person under the registered nurse’s jurisdiction or supervision to misrepresent that the individual is a licensed nurse.

   (4)  Misappropriate equipment, materials, property, drugs or money from an employer or patient.

   (5)  Solicit, borrow or misappropriate money, materials or property from a patient or the patient’s family.

   (6)  Leave a nursing assignment prior to the proper reporting and notification to the appropriate department head or personnel of such an action.

   (7)  Knowingly abandon a patient in need of nursing care. Abandonment is defined as the intentional deserting of a patient for whom the nurse is responsible.

   (8)  Falsify or knowingly make incorrect entries into the patient’s record or other related documents.

   (9)  Engage in conduct defined as a sexual violation or sexual impropriety in the course of a professional relationship.

 (c)  A registered nurse who fails to comply with an obligation or prohibition under this section is subject to disciplinary and corrective measures under section 14 of the act (63 P.S. §  224).

 (d)  The Board may, in addition to any other disciplinary or corrective measure set forth in this section, levy appropriate civil penalties as authorized by section 13(b) of the act (63 P.S. §  223(b)) upon a nurse found to have engaged in conduct constituting a sexual impropriety or sexual violation.