Nursing: Legal and Ethical Issues

1. Introduction: Nursing is a vital profession with many responsibilities. Along with these responsibilities come legal and ethical issues. This article will explore some of the legal and ethical issues in nursing and offer possible solutions to these problems.

2. Medical Malpractice in Nursing:

Medical malpractice can occur when a nurse fails to provide proper care to a patient and that patient is harmed as a result. There are four main elements of a medical malpractice case: duty, breach of duty, causal connection, and damages.

2.1 Duty: The first element is duty. A nurse has a duty to provide care to his or her patients in accordance with the accepted standard of care. The standard of care is generally defined as the way that a reasonably prudent nurse would act in a similar situation.

2.2 Breach of Duty: The second element is breach of duty. This occurs when the nurse fails to meet the standard of care. For example, if a nurse does not wash his or her hands before caring for a patient, he or she has breached the duty of care.

2.3 Causal Connection: The third element is causal connection, which means that the breach of duty must have caused the patient’s injury. For example, if the patient would have been injured even if the nurse had followed the standard of care, then there is no causal connection between the nurse’s actions and the patient’s injury.

2.4 Damages: The fourth and final element is damages, which means that the patient must have suffered some type of harm as a result of the nurse’s actions. For example, if the patient contracts an infection because the nurse did not wash his or her hands, then the patient has suffered damages.

3. Ethical Issues in Nursing:

Nurses also face ethical issues in their practice. One ethical issue that nurses may face is whether or not to provide care to a child who has been abused or neglected. Nurses have a duty to provide care to all patients, regardless of their age or circumstances. However, they also have a duty to report cases of abuse or neglect to authorities. In some cases, reporting the abuse may mean that the child will be removed from his or her home and placed in foster care. In other cases, it may mean that the abuser will be arrested and prosecuted. As such, nurses must weigh their duties carefully when faced with this decision.

4. Conclusion:

Nurses play a vital role in the healthcare system. Along with this role comes a certain amount of legal and ethical responsibility. This article has discussed some of the legal and ethical issues that nurses may face and offered possible solutions to these problems.


Some of the legal and ethical issues faced by nurses include patient confidentiality, informed consent, end-of-life care, and rationing of scarce resources.

These issues can impact patient care in a number of ways. For example, if a nurse is not able to keep a patient's information confidential, the patient may be less likely to trust the nurse and may be less likely to disclose important information. Informed consent is important in ensuring that patients understand the risks and benefits of their treatment options and can make an informed decision about their care. End-of-life care can be difficult for both patients and families, and nurses need to be sensitive to these challenges while also providing practical support. Rationing of scarce resources can lead to difficult decisions about who should receive limited treatments or medications, and nurses need to ensure that these decisions are made fairly and transparently.

Nurses can ensure they are providing ethically sound care by staying up-to-date on legal and ethical issues, being aware of their own personal values and biases, seeking consultation when needed, and involving patients and families in decision-making whenever possible.

There are a number of resources available to nurses who need help navigating legal and ethical issues. These resources include professional organizations such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Nurses United (NNU), which provide guidance on ethical principles; online databases such as The Kennedy Institute Ethics Information Center, which offer case studies and other educational materials;and state boards of nursing, which oversee licensure requirements