Licensed practical nurse (LPN) is the term used in much of the United States and most Canadian provinces to refer to a nurse who cares for "people who are sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled under the direction of registered nurses and physicians.
According to the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, licensed practical nurses care for patients in many ways:
Often, they provide basic bedside care. Many LPNs measure and record patients' vital signs such as weight, height, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. They also prepare and give injections and enemas, monitor catheters, dress wounds, and give alcohol rubs and massages. To help keep patients comfortable, they assist with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene, moving in bed, standing, and walking. They might also feed patients who need help eating. Experienced LPNs may supervise nursing assistants and aides, and other LPNs.
As part of their work, LPNs collect samples for testing, perform routine laboratory tests, and record food and fluid intake and output. They clean and monitor medical equipment. Sometimes, they help physicians and registered nurses perform tests and procedures. Some LPNs help to deliver,care for, and feed infants.
LPNs also monitor their patients and report adverse reactions to medications or treatments. LPNs gather information from patients, including their health history and how they are currently feeling. They may use this information to complete insurance forms, pre-authorizations, and referrals and they share information with registered nurses and doctors to help determine the best course of care for a patient. LPNs often teach family members how to care for a relative or teach patients about good health habits.
the Occupational Outlook Handbook,
while most LPNs are generalists and will
work in any area of healthcare some LPNs
work in specialized settings, such as
nursing homes, doctor's offices, or in
home care. In some U.S. states, LPNs are
permitted to administer prescribed
medicines, start intravenous fluids, and
provide care to ventilator-dependent
patients. While about 18 percent of LPNs/LVNs
in the U.S. worked part-time in 2008,
most work a 40 hour week. The
Occupational Outlook Handbook states
that LPNs may have to work nights,
weekends, and holidays; often stand for
long periods and help patients move in
bed, stand, or walk; and may face
occupational hazards which include
exposure to caustic chemicals,
radiation, infectious diseases, back
injuries from moving patients, workplace
stress and sometimes confused, agitated,
or uncooperative patients.