How to Avoid Illegal Acts as a CNA

Since the 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, Certified Nursing Assistants have become a highly-regulated healthcare professional. There are mandatory minimum standards for training and ethical considerations that must be enforced in all aspects of the job. Part of this policy established a watchdog committee for the public to monitor the performance of CNAs in order to protect their loved ones. Any misdeeds or crimes that occur on the job will be reported and stored on your permanent record as a CNA. If you plan for a long and successful career as a nurse aide, you need to know exactly which acts will hurt your record. Protect yourself from all types of misbehavior by understanding what will qualify for an illegal act before you commit it.


As the primary caretakers of many patients, CNAs can be prosecuted for negligence. Negligence is charged against CNAs when they do not demonstrate the proper amount of consideration and care for their patients and something goes wrong. Easy examples of this are providing a patient with the wrong medication or a food to which they are allergic. It is the CNA’s responsibility to be fully aware of all the precautions they must take when treating patients and if something goes wrong, supervisors will first check to see if all routines had been properly followed prior to the incident.

False Imprisonment

Many of the patients at nursing homes are not able to move about freely on their own. This is an important thing to recognize in regards to the charge of false imprisonment. The CNA may not physically restrain a patient without a doctor’s or supervising nurse’s order. This means any part of the body, including hands, legs, arms, wrists, head, etc. Beyond restraints, patients are entitled to leave the hospital or the nursing home of their own free will. To deny them this right is false imprisonment.


CNAs cannot take any personal property from their patients. Simply put, do not steal something from a patient. Whether it be valuable personal property or basic material goods, you cannot take anything that is not yours. Clothing, scented moisturizer, hairbrushes, jewelry, cellphones, anything at all should not be taken without permission.


This is the most common transgression for bad CNAs to commit. Because the nature of abuse is so wide-ranging, there are many ways to be incriminated for your treatment of a patient. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse are all forms of punishable offenses. You may not touch a patient without their permission; this is assault. You may not cause physical harm to a patient or provide an incorrect treatment. You may not yell, swear, belittle, or mock the patient. You cannot threaten the patient in any way. There are many forms of abuse and almost all of them are avoided through patience and empathy. Try to understand where your patients are coming from, you do not need to resort to violence or manipulation to achieve a favorable compromise.

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