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Question
I am a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and the unit that I work in has no phlebotomy service. My nurse manager has recently asked me to provide this service to patients in my unit and I wish to know if I am covered to take blood.

Answer
The scope of nursing practice in Ireland is the range of roles, functions, responsibilities and activities, which a registered nurse is educated, competent and has authority to perform (An Bord Altranais 2000).

Taking blood samples is considered to be within the scope of practice of a nurse/midwife, provided he/she is competent to do so. If a nurse is required to undertake such a role but has not developed or maintained competence in this area, to take blood would be outside his/her scope of practice. In such a situation, it is also inappropriate for a manager to delegate to a practitioner that which he or she is not competent to undertake.

The nurse must take measures to develop or to up-date, as the case may be, their competence in relation to this aspect of practice. The nurse will need to undertake an education programme so that he/she has the theoretical knowledge and clinical skills to competently carry out this role. Attainment of competence will also have to include a period of supervised clinical practice until the point is reached where the nurse and the person supervising him/her are satisfied that the nurse is competent to take blood. Once a nurse determines that he/she is competent to take blood and does carry out this role, he/she is fully accountable for his/her actions.

It is advisable to develop evidence-based local guidelines to support this role for nurses. If such guidelines are not already in existance, discuss the issue with your nurse manager or the Clinical Practice Development Co-ordinator, if there is such an individual in your hospital.

Date Published
Monday, August 23, 2004

Aspect of Scope
Competence; Local policies

Practice Area
General (Hospital)

Supporting Documents
Review of Scope of Pracitce for Nursing and Midwifery - An Bord Altranais (2000).
Guidance to Nurses and Midwives on the Development of Policies, Guidelines and Protocols (2000).

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. © An Bord Altranais