Is it legal for the nurse to do a PPD screening without a physician’s order?

By | 2021-05-28T17:39:38-04:00 April 27th, 2015|1 Comment

Dear Nancy,

I work for a therapeutic group home. All employees are required under the state law to have annual PPD tests for tuberculosis screening. The RN of the group home administered the PPD tests and read them for the employees. However, there is no doctor’s order for the test and no physician or house officer on staff. The nurse has been trained and certified by the health department in administering and reading PPDs. But is it legal for the nurse to do this without a doctor’s order from a physician?


Dear Keely,

It is assumed that if the nurse giving the PPD test and reading it where you work is certified by the state department of health that there is either a waiver of the need for a specific order or prescription. Another possibility is there are standing orders somewhere (e.g., discussed in the state’s law or the rules of its department) to do so.

You can check for this information online by placing “state department of health” in your search bar and when the home page appears, look for PPD test administration, requirements for PPD test certification or something similar. You can also review the state department of health’s authority and powers by reviewing the actual statute by searching under “state department of health statute” or “rules and regulations of the department.” There is often a wealth of information on state websites, and taking a little time to research your question may resolve any concerns you have.

Calling your local health department and speaking to someone there also may be an option and a quick one.
You can also seek the answer to your question through a consultation with a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state. The state board of nursing and/or the nurse practice act itself may help shine additional light on your question.




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About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

One Comment

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    Kathy February 8, 2019 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Can a CNA read a PPD

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