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Ethical and Legal Issue in Nursing Essay

Describe the legal responsibilities of nurses in the work setting. Within the nursing license, the nurse is legally bound to practice within the scope of nursing that each state defines by a Nurse Practice Act (NPA). The scope includes upholding the patient bill of rights and total patient care. According to the NLN (Springhouse, 2004), “Patients have the right to information about their diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment — including alternatives to care and risks involved — in terms they and their families can readily understand, so that they can give their informed consent.” For the family of Marianne, it is the nurse’s professional responsibility, within the nursing scope of practice, to provide education to Marianne’s family. Springhouse (2004) states, “For best results, patient teaching should include the family and others involved in the patient’s care. If family members understand the reason for a patient’s treatment, they’ll be more willing to provide emotional support.”

This education will ensure that Marianne’s husband will make an informed decision regarding his wife’s care and help Marianne’s children to understand their father’s decision. If the husband does decide to attempt surgery for the blood clot as recommended by the physician, then the nurse must ensure that Marianne’s husband understands the procedures along with the risks involved. The nurse is responsible for objectively documenting any plans of care and any actions taken relating to the plan of care. A nurse’s legal responsibility to the patient includes reporting incidents. In the case study where the nurse is called as a witness to a malpractice suit, the nurse failed fulfilled their fundamental duty of patient protection.

Initially, upon witnessing negligent care from another nurse, an incident report was immediately filed within the healthcare institution. The nurse also took notes of the negligence the other nurse performed. According to Blais (2011), “When called into court as a witness, the nurse has a duty to assist justice as far as possible.” This duty will include answering questions regarding the incident. It is important for the nurse to remember that answering questions truthfully and objectively will ensure the appropriate justice will occur.

Springhouse (2004). Nurse’s Legal Handbook (5th Edition). Philadelphia, PA,


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