Professional, Ethical & Legal Issues in Nursing Practice

Negligence, Damages, Medical ethics

Singapore Nursing Board Standards for Nursing Practice defines that Nurses/midwives have the professional responsibility and accountability to uphold Standard of care and to contribute to their dissemination, interpretation and development despite medical advances, social and demographic changes and an increasingly complex healthcare delivery system that challenge the ability of nurses to provide safe quality of care. Should nurses fail to uphold certain standards and by doing so cause harm or injury to the client, they would be held liable in the tort of negligence.

Description of a practical situation which raised ethical issues: Mr Lim 70 years old has been hospitalised for medical treatment with the diagnosis of chronic heart failure. He was ordered intravenous therapy by Dr Peter the medical resident. Nurse Su questions the order because it is for an infusion of Dextrose 50%. Dr Peter tells her that he checked it with Dr Lee, the medical officer. Nurse Su checks it with Nurse May before administration. Later, Mr Lim has a cardiac arrest and suffers extensive brain damage as a result of the infusion. The hospital inquiry is held and it determined that the correct infusion would be Dextrose 5%. Mr Lim’s family members are very upset and seek legal advice. All names mentioned in the above scenario are pseudonym. Identification of the ethical issues within the situation:

Negligence is the breech of an obligation or duty to act with care, or failure to act as a reasonable or prudent person under certain circumstances. Negligence is established as an unintentional tort alleged when one may have performed or failed to perform an act that a reasonable person would or would not have done in similar circumstances. (Judson & Harrison, 2010, p. 69). To enforce tort of negligence, the basic elements of tort of negligence must be established –duty, dereliction, direct cause and damages. (Judson & Harrison, 2010, p. 101) Negligence is one of the...
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