Pennsylvania Code & Bulletin

• No statutes or acts will be found at this website.

The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 1032 (February 24, 2024).

49 Pa. Code § 21.1. Definitions.


§ 21.1. Definitions.

 The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Act—The Professional Nursing Law (63 P.S. § §  211—225.5), which establishes standards for nursing schools and the conduct of nursing programs.

   Approved—Approved by the Board.

   Board——The State Board of Nursing of the Commonwealth.

   Continuing education—An activity approved by the Board as a condition for renewal of licensure or certification for which proof of completion can be provided to the Board.

   Diagnosing—Identification of and discrimination between physical and psychosocial signs and symptoms essential to effective execution and management of the nursing regimen.

   Distance learning continuing education—Continuing education in which the individual participates in the educational activity by means of electronic media or through refereed journals, rather than in a classroom, laboratory or clinical setting where the faculty and participant are physically located in the same room.

   Examination year—The period beginning on October 1st of a year through September 30th of the following year.

   Graduate registered nurse—An individual who has graduated from an approved program of professional nursing in this Commonwealth or a comparable program in another state.

   Human responses—Those signs, symptoms and processes which denote the interaction of the individual with an actual or potential health problem.

   Patient (includes residents and clients)—A person, other than a spouse or immediate family member, who receives professional services from a registered nurse, regardless of whether the nurse receives remuneration for the services.

   Practice of professional nursing

     (i)   Diagnosing and treating human responses to actual or potential health problems through such services as case findings, health teaching, health counseling, provision of care supportive to or restorative of life and well-being, and executing medical regimens as prescribed by a licensed physician or dentist.

     (ii)   The term does not include acts of medical diagnosis or prescription of medical therapeutic or corrective measures, except as may be authorized by rules and regulations jointly promulgated by the State Board of Medicine and the Board, which rules and regulations will be implemented by the Board.

   Professional relationship

     (i)   For a registered nurse not involved in providing mental health services, the relationship which shall be deemed to exist for a period of time beginning with the first professional contact or consultation between a registered nurse and a patient and ending with the patient’s discharge from or discontinuance of services by the nurse or by the nurse’s employer. The administration of emergency medical treatment or transitory trauma care will not be deemed to establish a professional relationship.

     (ii)   For a registered nurse involved in providing mental health services, the relationship which shall be deemed to exist for a period of time beginning with the first professional contact or consultation between the nurse and patient and ending 2 years after discharge from or discontinuance of services. For a patient who is a minor, a professional relationship shall be deemed to exist for 2 years or until 1 year after the age of majority, whichever is longer, after discharge from or discontinuance of services.

   Registered nurse—A nurse licensed under this subchapter to practice in this Commonwealth.

   Sexual impropriety—The term includes the following offenses:

     (i)   Making sexually demeaning or sexually suggestive comments about or to a patient, including comments about a patient’s body or undergarments.

     (ii)   Unnecessarily exposing a patient’s body or watching a patient dress or undress, unless for therapeutic purposes or the patient specifically requests assistance.

     (iii)   Examining or touching genitals without the use of gloves when performing an otherwise appropriate examination.

     (iv)   Discussing or commenting on a patient’s potential sexual performance or requesting details of a patient’s sexual history or preferences during an examination or consultation, except when the examination or consultation is pertinent to the issue of sexual function or dysfunction or reproductive health care. Discussion of a patient’s sexual practices and preferences shall be fully documented in the patient’s chart.

     (v)   Soliciting a date from a patient.

     (vi)   Volunteering information to a patient about one’s sexual problems, preferences or fantasies.

   Sexual violation—The term includes the following offenses:

     (i)   Sexual intercourse between a registered nurse and a patient during the professional relationship.

     (ii)   Genital to genital contact between a nurse and a patient during the professional relationship.

     (iii)   Oral to genital contact between a nurse and a patient during the professional relationship.

     (iv)   Touching breasts, genitals, or any other body part for any purpose other than appropriate examination or treatment, or using prolonged or improper examination techniques, or after the patient has refused or withdrawn consent.

     (v)   Encouraging a patient to masturbate in the presence of the nurse or masturbating while a patient is present.

     (vi)   Providing or offering to provide drugs or treatment in exchange for sexual favors.

     (vii)   Using or causing the use of anesthesia or any other drug affecting consciousness for the purpose of engaging in conduct that would constitute a sexual impropriety or sexual violation.

   Systematic evaluation plan—An organized, continuous analysis of all nursing education program components, such as curriculum, faculty, facilities, policies and outcome measures, that addresses standards or benchmarks to be achieved and establishes an action plan if those standards or benchmarks are not achieved.

   Treating—Selection and performance of those therapeutic measures essential to the effective execution and management of the nursing regimen and execution of the prescribed medical regimen.


   The provisions of this §  21.1 amended under sections 2.1(k) and 6.1 of The Professional Nursing Law (63 P.S. § §  212.1(k) and 216.1); and sections 9 and 17.6 of the Practical Nurse Law (63 P.S. § §  659 and 667.6).


   The provisions of this §  21.1 amended October 22, 1976, effective October 23, 1976, 6 Pa.B. 2677; amended September 16, 1983, effective September 17, 1983, 13 Pa.B. 2829; amended September 8, 2000, effective September 9, 2000, 30 Pa.B. 4730; amended May 19, 2006, effective May 20, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 2402; amended July 11, 2008, effective July 12, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 3796, 3806; amended April 24, 2009, effective April 25, 2009, 39 Pa.B. 2103. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (335510) to (335513).

Cross References

   This section cited in 49 Pa. Code §  21.803 (relating to applicability of rules relating to professional nurses).

No part of the information on this site may be reproduced for profit or sold for profit.

This material has been drawn directly from the official Pennsylvania Code full text database. Due to the limitations of HTML or differences in display capabilities of different browsers, this version may differ slightly from the official printed version.