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What is Nursing Delegation, and What Are the 5 Rights of Delegation?

Delegation is a term used to describe when one registered nurse directs another person to a set of tasks to perform involving a patient's care. This term was first used by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

In this article, we will cover what nursing delegation is, the essentials of the process, and the five rights of delegation.

What Are The Essential Components of Delegation?


Regardless of the nurse's state, registered nurses are expected to be professional, reliable, and dependable while giving patient care.


To be able to complete tasks following specific job descriptions and policies. Gibbs reflective cycle can come handy to learn from past experience and increase authority.


Accountability falls on the registered nurse who delegates the task of completing the patient care and accounts for all legal liabilities for that state's provisions.

With the legalities set in place for a nurse's delegation, the American Nurses Association put in place five rights of delegation to help nurses make safe decisions. Keep reading to get a better understanding of these rights and why they are important for both the nurse and the patient. 

What Are The Five Rights of Delegation?

  1. Right task
  2. Right circumstance
  3. Right person
  4. Right supervision
  5. Right direction and communication

Now, we are going to go through some scenarios that show where nursing delegation comes into action in the healthcare setting. 

After completing nursing orientation, Roger finds himself working on a medical surgical unit with a list of tasks that must be completed quickly; this is where delegation comes in. who to delegate to each task is in question. This is an excellent time to use the five rights of delegation.

1. Right Tasks

Roger has to ask himself which task he is to delegate, is legally within his rights to delegate these tasks, and is within the hospital's procedures and policies—assessing, planning, and evaluating are not to be delegated by someone who's not a nurse. Becoming familiar with institutional nurse practice will be essential.

2. Right Circumstances

Roger will have questions after the delegation tasks: was the right equipment and resources available, was the proper supervision acquired, and was this delegation done in the right setting? Roger will assess each person. Patients with unstable or requiring more assistance during daily living are not people who should be delegated tasks by unlicensed nurses.  

3. Right Person

Choosing the right person for delegation requires knowing the former experience and qualifications of the delegate or asking before delegating a task such as have you ever performed this before? Have you ever received any training with this procedure? Have you ever had any problems completing this before?  

4. Right Supervision

There must be a registered nurse to supervise. After the task is complete, there should be reports made to the nurse who delegated the job, who is to be held accountable for the outcomes of the patients.

5. Right Direction and Communication

Deadlines accompany specific tasks that must be carried out in a timely fashion or in accordance with a particular type of schedule. No assumptions are to be made; all delegations are to be given until the other licensed personnel understands precisely what to do and how it's expected to be done. It is also expected to be reported back when the task is completed. Therefore, the instructions need to be clear and effective communication must go both ways to ensure tasks are completed to the best standards of practice.

Why Nursing Delegation is Necessary for Modern Healthcare

With delegation being complicated at times, why is it used? Shortage in nursing, fiscal constraints, and patient care complexity make delegation a must in medicine.

Improper Delegation

Delegation done incorrectly can cause harm to a patient leading the delegator to a lawsuit. All staff must work as a team to create a positive health care environment for the patients.

Essentials of Communication

A clear understanding between the delegator and the delegate is necessary for the patient's well-being. It is essential how the delegator requests task communication is crucial. Patient care outcomes can result in inferior outcomes when the registered nurse isn't straightforward and precise in delegating and doesn't follow up on the unlicensed worker.   

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Booher, RN
Blog published on:
July 20, 2022

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