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Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing


Unlike any other professional discipline, nurses are subject to a motley of legal, professional as well as ethical duties. These duties assert that each practicing nurse should respect and protect a patient’s life. Thus, for practicing nurses, integrity is paramount when rectifying cases of extreme negligence. And in circumstances, the most apposite thing to do is to seek ways to help the concerned patient. This may involve the responsible nurse undertaking the responsibility of assisting the patient. It ought to be noted that under both legal and ethical perspectives respecting the patient’s plight is paramount. More so, every nurse is expected to respect the patient’s autonomy and equally recognize the contractual obligation that is owed to every patient. Despite that, there are legal aspects that are not to be breached for they form a part of ethical considerations.

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These legal aspects concern the fundamentals of guarding the patient’s security and confidentiality. And that is why all nurses are bound by the respective authority code of ethics which are commonly enforced by the authority’s disciplinary processes.

Exploring the mentioned case it would be instrumental to assert that the American Nurses Association Code of Nursing Ethics may play an integral role in this case. Consider that as a professional body it is mandated with regulating the manner her members behave. Thus on the scope of legal, ethical, and professional dimensions, this body may influence to a great deal the manner the case is determined. This can be allied to the fact that the association is mandated with defining and interpreting the diverse issues regarding the nursing profession. Some of these features regard nursing conducts, patient confidentiality as well as obligations to the patient’s care. Therefore, putting those features into consideration would play an integral role in affecting or influencing the final decision on the case. In essence, all nurses are required to be registered under this body. More so, the organization’s professional stipulations act as the guide to all nurses.

In essence, all nurses are obliged to be responsible in addition to adhering to the professional legal, and ethical standards. Thus, the nurse owes his or her obligation to the patient as well as to the organization he/she is practicing under. And the major responsibility of the nurse to his or her employer is to be responsible. This would entail being ethically straight and legally accountable to both the employer and the patient.

Concerning the mentioned case diverse personal and ethical concerns may considerably influence the manner ethical decisions are made. This can be attributed to the fact that every individual or nurse has his or her ideal perception of what is morally upright. Thus, in this case, such ideals may considerably affect the manner ethical decisions are made. This can be correlated to the fact that each individual comes from a distinct background that is tied to specific ethical standpoints.

Therefore, in such instances, it becomes quite challenging to determine personal or societal ethical issues that are apposite (Dimond, 2006). Nevertheless, where personal or societal ethical aspects are identified and assessed the decision on ethical issues can not be thus affected. Therefore, the consequences of personal or societal issues may thus play a pivotal role in influencing ethical decisions in some greater aspects. This is because the nurse is bound by both personal and societal or legal ethics to provide the utmost care to the patient. These dynamics cannot be easily separated from the profession of nursing; hence, failure to abide by such aspects may be translated as negligence on the part of the nurse.

From the case study, the emerging legal aspects regarding the Nurses Practice Act and Laws revolve around the axis of negligence. The nurse is under legal obligation expected to provide the necessary care to the patient. Irresponsibility which is viewed as an act of negligence is highly condemned in the Act. Therefore, the study illustrates that a nurse owes the patient a duty of care. Considering the nurse’s encounters several diverse legal and ethical issues in the course of their duties, the Nursing Practice Act and Laws have a well-articulated code of ethics tailored to steer nurses into proper professional conduct. Therefore, regarding the stipulated code of conduct, no one nurse is expected to breach his or her duties. Hence, the aspects of nursing regarding this Act are rooted in the dynamics of respect, confidentiality, primary commitment as well as dependability and accountability.

Thus, the fundamental legal aspects of the case study may be classified as negligence and abuse of office. The nurse on duty was obliged to provide care to the patient. Also, the nurse is expected under the law to protect the life of the patient.

The legal responsibilities of nurses in the working environment are diverse and distinct. It ought to be note that legal responsibilities assert that nurses ought to be committed to their call. Also the legal tenets uphold that nurses in their profession have no right in revealing the records or the details of the patient to the third party without consent. This demonstrates that nurses are expected to differentiate their personal ideals from professional values. This is due to the fact that professional values must be respected at all times in all situations (Tschudin, 2000). Therefore, concerning legal responsibilities nurses are expected to uphold aspects of beneficence, autonomy, justice as well as nonmaleficence. Also nurses are expected to act as advocates for their respective patients. This entails advocating for the patient in all issues pertaining to health matters such as emergencies. Also the nurse is bound to play the role of liaison entailing the physician and the client. In addition the nurse has the legal duties to monitor the patient including watching for any changes which may endanger or alter the life of the patient.

Equally, another legal aspect pertains to the fact that the nurse has a duty to access the physician as to grant quality and instantaneous care to the patient (Dickenson, 2000).


In conclusion the case study have illustrated that the nurse is bound to respect and protect the plight of his or her patient. Equally, the nurse is also obliged to respect the station one is employed. As an act of good faith, no nurse is in any circumstance whether on social, ethical or professional perspective is allowed to breach the professional code of ethics. Therefore, due to the emerging legal, ethical and professional challenges nurses are thus expected to treat their patients honestly and objectively without bias.


Dickenson, D. (2002) Ethical Issues. Cambridge: Cambridge.

Dimond, B. (2006) Legal Aspects of Nursing. London: Longman.

Tschudin, V. (2000) Ethical Decisions in ethics in nursing. London: Butterworth.

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