Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing

Topics: Nursing, Nurse, Medical ethics Pages: 5 (1613 words) Published: February 3, 2014

Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing


Sharon Little-Stoetzel
February 17, 2013

Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing
Within the profession of Nursing there are many decisions and clinical vignettes that will play out. This paper will depict an end of life case study, which will be explored. When reviewing each case study there are two nursing actions for how end of life care is viewed and carried out, according to the American Association Code of Nursing Ethics. Throughout the ethics code it explains how a nurse who does not abide by the standards would be handled. The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics states that respecting a patient at the end of life" extends to all who require the services of the nurse for the promotion of health ,the prevention of illness, the restoration of health, the alleviation of suffering, and the provision of supportive care to those who are dying." (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2001, p. 7) Nurses should always view the job duties of caring for the patient with a holistic approach. One not only for the patient, but also the family or loved ones. In Marianne's case, the patient did not have an advanced health care directive. Therefore, the nurse's focus on doing what is for the good and "doing no harm" (also called nonmaleficence) can be challenging when facing end of life care for the patient." Nurses help prepare the family on steps to be taken and who must be contacted”, when the patient is approaching death." Providing this critical information and education will help to reduce the amount of fear and anxiety frequently associated with not knowing". (Heidrich, 2007). Nurses also recognize and respect various cultural differences and wishes to be performed out at this time. If those cultural differences are not known, various resources are presented to best facilitate carrying out a patient's wishes. According to the American Nurses Association Code of Nursing Ethics, a malpractice case pertaining to malpractice, which resolved in harm to the patient, it is the nurse's duty to report what she has observed and witnessed. There is also the responsibility of the nurse's employer to report the case. If there are witnesses the obligation to report is vital. First protecting and providing safe care to the patient takes top priority. Other actions to take may include informing the loved ones or family of the patient. The next step is to continue the reporting of the incident up the chain of command starting with the nurse's direct supervisor all the way to a legislative organization. During the chain of reporting when a link is broken it is the original nurse's responsibility to report to the legislative organization if warranted. The American Nurses Association Code of Nursing Ethics states that "as a nurse the obligation is to the patient because nurses strive to resolve conflicts in the ways that ensure patient's safety, guard the patient's best interest and preserve the professional integrity of the nurse"((American Nurses Association (ANA, 2001, p. 10). Personal and societal values can influence ethical decision making. Rassin wrote, "Values lie at the core of the diverse world of human behavior and are expressed in every human decision and action" (Rassin, 2008,pg 614). Personal values give our lives meaning, they are how and why we react in certain ways, and allow us to have faith in ourselves. We learn these from our infancy throughout our lives, as we grow and learn. These values can change based on what is important to us. Values are what we see as right versus wrong, good versus evil and important versus unimportant. Societal values are values and abilities that contribute to moral character, and give us a sense of community. This is why we do not condone murder or violent crimes as a society. We view this as unacceptable behavior. Humans are taught as children how to behave, are told not to fight,...

References: American Nurses Association. (2001). End of Life Nursing Education Consortium. Silver Spring, MD: ANA.
Edwards, T. (2013). Legal Responsibilities of Nurses. Retrieved from
Fins, J. J. (1994). Advanced Directives and Support. Journal of American Geriatric Society, 519-520.
Heidrich, D. E. (2007). The Dying Process. Palliative and End Of Life Care: Clinical Practice Guidelines (2nd Ed.). St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier.
Higginbotham, E., & McCarthy, R. (2001). Nursing Practice and the Law: avoiding malpractice and other legal risks. Philadelphia: F.A.Davis Co.
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. (2003). Sentinel Event Glossary of Terms. Retrieved from
Kozier, B., Erb, G., Berman, A., & Snyder, S. (2012). Fundamentals of Nursing.Concepts, Process and Practices (7th Ed.).
Rassin, M. (2008). Nurses Professional and Personal Values [article]. Nursing Ethics, 15(5), 614-630.
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