Who Can Take Verbal Orders From a Physician?

When you visit a hospital or doctor’s office, you expect top-notch medical care from the healthcare professionals on duty. However, have you ever wondered about the hierarchy of authority among the medical staff? Who can take verbal orders from a physician, and who can’t? It’s a crucial question that needs a clear and concise answer, especially if you’re pursuing a healthcare career or have a loved one under medical care.

There are different levels of responsibility and authority in medicine, each with its unique duties and limitations. While the physician is at the top of the chain of command, they often delegate some of their tasks to other healthcare professionals. But who can take verbal orders from a physician?

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as it may seem. Different healthcare facilities have other policies and protocols, and the answer often depends on the individual’s scope of practice and level of training. However, only licensed healthcare professionals trained to interpret physician orders can take verbal orders.

Depending on the facility’s policies, these healthcare professionals may include registered nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and sometimes even respiratory therapists. Each professional has undergone extensive training and deeply understands medical terminology, pharmacology, and patient care.


Registered nurses, in particular, play a crucial role in interpreting and carrying out physicians’ orders. They are the primary point of contact between the physician and the patient, and they often take verbal orders for medication, treatment, and diagnostic tests. However, they are also responsible for monitoring the patient’s condition and promptly reporting any changes to the physician.

In conclusion, the question of who can take verbal orders from a physician is a complex one to answer. It depends on the individual’s level of training, the scope of practice, and the facility’s policies and protocols. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand the hierarchy of authority in healthcare to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. And remember, no matter who takes the verbal order, patient safety and well-being should always be the top priority.

Can Nurses Take Verbal Orders From Physicians?

Yes, registered nurses can take verbal orders from doctors in certain situations. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to note that the ability of nurses to take verbal orders from doctors may depend on the laws and regulations in their specific state or country. In some cases, rules and regulations may restrict the types of orders nurses are allowed to take or require that orders be written instead of verbal. It is discussed in detail on the American Nurses Association website.

Assuming it is legally permissible for nurses to take verbal orders, some limitations remain. Generally, nurses are only allowed to take verbal orders for certain types of tasks or procedures, such as administering medications, performing certain diagnostic tests, or providing certain types of treatment. The specific tasks or procedures that nurses are allowed to perform will depend on their level of training and certification.

In addition, doctors must be clear and specific when giving verbal orders to nurses. Ensuring the nurse understands what is expected of them and can perform the task safely and accurately is important. It’s also important for doctors to follow up with written orders as soon as possible to ensure a clear record of the orders given.


Overall, while nurses can take verbal orders from doctors in some situations, there are limitations and considerations to keep in mind. If you have questions or concerns about whether nurses can take verbal orders in your specific case, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or legal expert who is familiar with the laws and regulations in your area. For instance, you might want to learn more about collaborative practices, such as the Physician and Midwife Collaborative Practice, to understand how different roles can interact in a healthcare setting.

Who Can Take Verbal Orders From a Physician Aside From Nurses?

In addition to registered nurses, other healthcare professionals may be authorized to take verbal orders from a physician, depending on their level of training and certification. For example, physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives, may be authorized to take verbal orders from physicians.

Pharmacists, too, may be authorized to take verbal orders from physicians in certain situations, particularly related to medication orders. In some cases, respiratory therapists and other allied healthcare professionals may also be authorized to take verbal orders, depending on the facility’s policies and protocols.

However, it’s important to note that the specific regulations and protocols around who can take verbal orders from a physician may vary from one healthcare facility to another. It may also depend on state or national regulations. Additionally, while verbal orders can efficiently communicate instructions in certain situations, written orders are generally considered the preferred communication method, as they provide a detailed record of the orders.

What Must Authorized Healthcare Professionals Do When Taking a Verbal Order From a Physician?

Authorized healthcare professionals who take verbal orders from a physician are responsible for ensuring they understand the order clearly and entirely before carrying it out. It includes:

  1. Repeat the order: To confirm that they heard and understood the order correctly, the healthcare professional should repeat it to the physician using the same terminology and language.
  2. Clarify any unclear or ambiguous aspects of the order: If any aspects are unclear or vague, the healthcare professional should ask the physician to clarify them before proceeding.
  3. Document the order: The healthcare professional must document the verbal order in the patient’s medical record immediately after receiving it. This documentation should include the date and time of the order, the physician’s name, the specific details of the order, and the name of the healthcare professional who received the order.
  4. Follow up with a written order: The physician should provide a written order as soon as possible after giving a verbal order. This written order should confirm the details of the verbal order and should be signed and dated by the physician.
  5. Report any concerns or issues: If the healthcare professional has any concerns or issues related to the order or the patient’s condition, they should report them promptly to the physician or other healthcare team members.

By following these steps, healthcare professionals can help ensure that they carry out verbal orders accurately and safely and that patients receive the appropriate care.

Who Can Enter Computerized Orders for Physicians?

Healthcare facilities usually authorize various healthcare professionals to enter computerized orders for physicians. These include Registered Nurses (RNs), Physician Assistants (PAs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Pharmacists, Medical Assistants (MAs), and Ancillary staff such as respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. RNs, PAs, NPs, and MAs trained in using electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized order entry systems may be authorized to enter orders based on facility policies and protocols.

Pharmacists may be authorized to enter medication therapy-related orders, and ancillary staff may enter orders for routine tasks related to their specialty. The specific regulations and protocols governing this may vary from one healthcare facility to another and depend on state or national regulations. All healthcare professionals authorized to enter orders must do so under the supervision of a physician and according to established policies and protocols. They must also have the necessary training and competency to enter orders accurately and safely.


Verbal Orders Are Accepted by Nurses From a Physician During When?

A nurse can accept verbal orders from a physician in certain situations, but it depends on the policies and regulations of the healthcare facility, as well as the state or country where the nurse is practicing. 

In general, nurses can accept verbal orders from a physician when:

  1. The order is for a task or procedure that falls within the scope of the nurse’s practice: Nurses are only authorized to perform certain tasks or procedures based on their level of training and certification. The physician must give verbal orders that are appropriate for the nurse’s level of training and certification.
  2. The physician is authorized to give the order: The physician must be licensed and authorized to practice medicine in the state or country where the nurse works, and the healthcare facility must authorize verbal orders.
  3. The order is clear and specific: The physician must give clear and precise instructions for the nurse to follow, using terminology that the nurse understands.
  4. The order is necessary for the immediate treatment or care of the patient: Verbal orders are generally only accepted when a patient’s condition requires immediate treatment or intervention, and the physician is not immediately available to write a written order.
  5. The nurse can confirm the order: The nurse must be able to confirm the order with the physician, repeating it back to ensure accuracy.
  6. The order is promptly documented: The nurse must document the order in the patient’s medical record as soon as possible after receiving it, and the physician should provide a written order as quickly as possible.

In addition to these general guidelines, specific policies and protocols may be related to verbal orders within a healthcare facility. Nurses should always consult these policies and guidelines to follow the appropriate procedures.


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