Nursing is a profession within the health care sector focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses may be differentiated from other health care providers by their approach to patient care, training, and scope of practice. Nurses practice in many specialties with differing levels of prescription authority. Many nurses provide care within the ordering scope of physicians, and this traditional role has shaped the public image of nurses as care providers. However, nurse practitioners are permitted by most jurisdictions to practice independently in a variety of settings.
Nurses do not have the authority to prescribe medications, with some exceptions. All medications administered by nurses must be from a medication prescription from a licensed practitioner doctor. Nurses are legally responsible for the drugs they administer and there may be legal implications when there is an error in a prescription and the nurse could be expected to have noted and reported error in time.