ABSTRACT: Immunization is recognized as a powerful public health tool in disease control and eradication. Registered nurses (RNs) are the principal health professionals responsible for administering vaccines, not only in terms of childhood immunization but also increasingly in administering travel vaccines and annual influenza vaccinations. The RN often provides leadership in developing and maintaining a high quality program. The legal position of nurses when administering a vaccine conflicts with their role as care providers, and nurses must be aware of their legal position when administering a vaccine that has not been individually prescribed by a doctor. A recent case involving a baby who died after receiving a vaccine administered by a public health nurse without a doctor's prescription resulted in the prosecutor initiating a prosecution against the nurse and chief of Health Bureau for a violation of Article 28 of the Physician's Act and the criminal law. Although the nurse and Bureau Chief were judged not guilty, the first trial court pointed out that the behavior of this nurse still violated Article 28. This reflects the conflict that exists between empirical practice and legal regulations. In order to guarantee that prophylactic inoculation is implemented properly under legitimate and effective conditions (specially in remote districts), in May 23, 2006, Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to Article 4 of the Communicable Disease Control Act, which specified that no public health nurse can be prosecuted for violations of Article 28 of the Physician's Act as a result of vaccine administration. In the future, nurses in clinics located in remote districts may conduct prophylactic inoculation work without fear of the terms of Article 28 and focus on implementing public prophylactic inoculation responsibilities. However, a public health nurse can still be liable for the malpractice in criminal law during the vaccination. Therefore, following procedure is still necessary in the conduct of vaccination duties.
The journal of nursing research: JNR 04/2008; 16(1):1-7. · 0.69 Impact Factor