What Is Private Duty Nursing? Care Outside The Hospital

By: Meredith Miller
Published: Tuesday, February 19 2019
Last Updated: 10 months ago

Private duty nursing has a long history; in fact, it was a widespread practice throughout the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century. Back then, rather than the hospital having nurses on staff, patients would hire their own nurse to care for them for the duration of their illness. Although hospitals today have nurses on staff, private duty nurses are still available for care outside of hospitals. So, what is private duty nursing and how is it practiced in the modern age?

What Is Private Duty Nursing?

Private duty nursing is nursing care provided in a patient's home by either a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse. This allows the patient to receive continuous, personalized care outside of hospitals. Private duty nurses can provide ventilator care, catheter maintenance, administer IVs and feeding tubes, and perform other medical and general care tasks from the comfort of a patient's home. The length of visits from these nurses varies based on the patient's needs, ranging from brief visits to around-the-clock care.

Who Needs This Type Of Care?

Those who may need private duty nursing include those suffering from a chronic illness requiring intensive care, individuals with disabilities, and those needing end-of-life care. Patients requiring private duty care are often unable to perform necessary daily tasks and are sometimes unable to leave their homes without assistance.

How Much Does Private Duty Nursing Cost You?

The price of private duty nursing services varies based on how many hours the nurse is with the patient, the types of services rendered, and the supplies required to provide quality care. The price also varies depending on which state you live in.

Currently, the national average cost is $4000 per month and the median hourly rate is $20 per hour. You can use the Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey to determine the average price of private duty care services in your area.

Will It Be Covered By Your Medicare?

Medicare generally does not cover private duty nursing services. These services can either be paid out-of-pocket or through certain private insurance. Those needing care covered by Medicaid will need to seek home health services rather than private duty.

Private Duty Nursing Vs. Home Health

Although private duty nurses and home health aides both provide care outside of hospitals, there are differences between the two services. Private duty nurses work with patients and their families on a one-on-one basis. Private duty nurses may be self-employed, contractors, or employed through an agency or hospital.

These services are often long term and intended for those with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Home health nurses generally provide care to elderly, homebound patients. They are most often hired by agencies on an as-needed basis. Home health care is often short term and aimed at helping the patient recover from an illness, injury, or hospital stay.

What To Look For In Your Private Duty Nurse

When looking for a private duty nurse you want to find someone who will provide high-quality care. Here are several things to look for in a private duty nurse:

  • Their qualifications - Are they a Registered Nurse or a Licensed Practical Nurse? This is important knowledge because RNs have more training and are qualified to perform more tasks than an LPN.
  • How long they have been in the field - Although having many years of experience doesn't always translate to a higher skill level, the two are linked. A nurse who is more experienced will be prepared for a wider variety of medical situations than a less experienced nurse.
  • Their track record - Do they treat their patients well and have a good temperament? Do they provide high-quality care? How do they compare to other private duty nurses?
  • Whether or not they are bonded and insured - Bonding protects you from theft by a caregiver; bonding insurance companies compensate the patient should they be victims of caregiver theft. Although it is important to be able to trust your caregiver, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to theft.

Starting Your Search Today

When searching for a private duty nurse you can choose to go through an agency or a registry. If you need private duty care as soon as possible it is best to go through an agency, as their nurses have likely been pre-screened. However, if you aren't in urgent need of care, you may choose to take your time personally selecting a private duty nurse from state or local registries.

Both private duty agencies and registries in your area can be found through an internet search. You can also ask friends and family members who have experience with hiring private duty nurses for their recommendations.