Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing

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Ethical and Legal Issues

Ethical and Legal Issues Faced with ethical and legal decisions on a daily basis, nurses must at times make some pretty tough decisions including how to proceed with care for an incapacitated patient with no advanced directive or how to proceed when called upon to testify against a current employer. The American Nurses Association Code of Nursing Ethics is one of the main tools available for the nurse to utilize when it comes to making these tough decisions. The nurse may apply personal values as well as societal values to these cases in order to come to a sound, ethical decision. The legal aspects of each of these cases can have a profound effect on the continuing career of the nurse, a thorough evaluation is necessary to protect all involved. Finally, the nurse also carries a legal responsibility to her profession, workplace, patients, and self. Ethical and legal decision-making are complex but after a thorough assessment, the nurse can continue to make an ethically and legally sound judgment on how to proceed.
Influence of the ANA Code of Nursing Ethics
The ANA Code of Nursing Ethics is the first reference when deciding how to proceed with an incapacitated patient who has no advanced directive or how a nurse should react when called upon to testify against an employer in a negligence or malpractice case. This code, designed to assist the nurse in maintaining his or her ethical integrity as well as protect the nurse and patient during ethical dilemmas, is the foundation for ethical decision making (Blais & Hayes). According to American Nursing Association (2001), the nurse should place the patient first in both of these cases. The nurse’s top priority and legal responsibility is to the safety and wellbeing of the patients as their advocates (American Nursing Association, 2001). This means providing…...

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