Legal an Ethical Issues in Nursing

Nurses are facing many legal or ethical dilemmas in their career. Nurses should combine knowledge of ethical and legal aspects of health care and professional values into nursing practice. It is very essential to know what kind of dilemmas nurses may face during their profession and how they have been dealt with in the past. First, it is very essential for the nurses to know the difference between law and ethics. Ethics observes the values and actions of people.

On the other hand, laws are necessary rules of conduct. When laws are broken down, it is liable to be punished by an authority or a power. An instance of this would be a nurse carrying out suitable doctor’s orders. A nurse may be faced with an act that may be ethical but not legal, such as permitting a cancer patient to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. The opposite may arise where an action may be legal but not ethical. Finally, an action may be neither legal or ethical.

Nowadays, ethical dilemmas in health-care organizations is increasing day by day and the resolution of ethical dilemmas need careful assessment of all the facts and causes of the case. In order to resolve these issues, nowadays many institutions appoint ethic committees, which are made of healthcare professionals, ethicists, lawyers, and clergy. The responsibility of ethics committee is to help decision makers resolve ethical dilemmas using an ethical decision-making process.

The nurse work together with other health professionals and the public in encouraging community, national, and international efforts to meet health requirements. “A value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence. ” (Rokeach, 1973). Personal values can be related with an individual decision behavior and the role played by personal values in decision-making within an organization is very obvious and apparent.

Past research has discovered that managers react to ethical dilemmas according to the situation. If specific values that are related to ethical behavior can be identified, they would offer strong tools for managers who want to retain high standards of ethical behavior in their society. The issue of ethical decision making has become more important in recent years for a variety of reasons. An understanding of ethical decision making in organizations is more significant to the development of organizational science.

Managers engage in decision-making behavior affecting the lives and well-being of others. The individual responds to an ethical dilemma with cognitions determined by his or her cognitive moral development stage. As a nurse it has happened to be an essential need to be conscious of the legal aspects associated with caring and serving people in the health industry today. Unfortunately, only fewer people want to get into the health care field fearing the legal aspects and the predictable law suits. The Tort Law is one of the legal aspects of the law that most nurses is more familiar with.

This is the law that involved misconduct and negligence cases, which many nurses take the time to study in depth. This is one of the most universal and well-known laws, something that nurses and doctors must be familiar with, to maintain their care resourcefully. Nurses must take as many precautions and safety measures during their daily shifts to protect themselves from malpractice suits. Nurses gain knowledge in school that appropriate care of a patient is not only making the right decisions but also upholding and organizing his or her medical records and reports proficiently.

The legal aspects of nursing are trained and likely to keep throughout every nurse’s profession. Employment as a nurse requires not only the degree but also the knowledge of the medical laws. Many young people in this generation aspire of becoming a nurse, but it is very impossible to hire the people without the legal knowledge as legal issues are becoming more problematic. Nurses have many ethical duties to their clients. The main ethical duties are beneficence, fidelity, veracity, and justice.

The nurses should identify the complex ethical situation and practice in accordance with the American Nurses Association Code of ethics for nurses (ANA, 2001). They should preserve and protect patient independence, dignity, and rights. They should also act as a patient advocate and maintain a patient-nurse relationship. They should also participate in ethical decision-making processes to find solutions to the multitude of ethical dilemmas in practice (Matzo, et. al, 2004, p. 65).

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