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Law and Ethics in Nursing

:: 4 Works Cited
Length: 3244 words (9.3 double-spaced pages)
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In every nurse's career, he or she will face with legal and 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 have been successfully 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 lawsuit.

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 not report it.


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...inghouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation. 2004.

Hunt G. Moral Crisis, Professionals and Ethical Education. Nursing Ethics. 1997;4:29–38

Sulmacy & Weinberger. “Better Care is the Best Defense: High-value Clinical Practice vs. Defensive Medicine.” Cleveland Journal of Medicine (2014): 464-467. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Purtilo, R. Ethical Dimensions in the Health Professions, 5e Saunders, 2010.

Sources Consulted

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

Packer-Tursman, Judy. "The Defensive Medicine Balancing Act." Medical Economics 92.1 (2015): 43-48. Business Source Premier. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Pesto, Marilyn. “Historical Perspective on American Malpractice Litigation.” 2014.

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