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Law and Ethics in Nursing

:: 5 Sources Cited
Length: 3220 words (9.2 double-spaced pages)
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Law and Ethics in Nursing

In every nurse's career, the nurse is faced with many legal or ethical dilemmas. One of the professional competencies for nursing states that nurses should " integrate knowledge of ethical and legal aspects of health care and professional values into nursing practice". It is important to know what types of dilemmas nurses may face
during their careers and how they may have been dealt with in the past. It
is also important for nurses to understand what malpractice is and how they
may protect themselves from a malpractice suit.

It is important
to first understand the difference between law and ethics. Ethics examines
the values and actions of people. Often times there is no one right course
of action when one is faced with an ethical dilemma. On the other hand, laws
are binding rules of conduct. When laws are broken, it is punishable by an
authority figure.
There are four types of situations that pertain to law
vs. ethics. The first would be an action that is both legal and ethical. An
example of this would be a nurse carrying out appropriate doctor's orders as
ordered. A nurse may also be faced with an action that may be ethical but
not legal, such as allowing 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. For example, when a nurse
makes a medication error and does ...

... middle of paper ...

...not just one right course of action to take. The ANA
Code of Ethics are guidelines to help a nurse determine which course of action
to take. Many times, an ethical decision may be made that holds to one of
the guidelines but may infringe on another or the action may be ethical but
not legal (or vice versa).


Nurse's handbook of law & ethics. (1992). Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation.

Catalano, J.T. (1996). Contemporary professional nursing. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.

Hunt, G. (Ed.). (1994). Ethical issues in nursing. London: Routledge.

Lancombe, D.C. (1990). Avoiding a malpractice nightmare. Nursing 90, 20 (6), 42-43.

Purtilo, R. (1993). Ethical dimensions in the health professions (2cd ed.).

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