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Law and ethics in nursing

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This assignment is based on the ethical and legal issues that are significant to nursing practice. The specific areas that are going to be covered will be that of consent, accountability, duty of care, the Nursing and Midwifery council's code of professional conduct and the four fundamental principles used in ethical decision making, also known as principlism. The following statement will also be discussed: "Ignorance of the law is no defence and the nurse should be aware of the limits which the law imposes on her, and also the power it gives her" (Dimond 2004). Nursing practice is affected by many pieces of legislation and law (Kozier) and so areas such as negligence and trespass will be discussed. A scenario taken from practice will then focus on some key legal and ethical issues that arise during practice, adhering to confidentiality at all times. The main issue from the scenario that will then be discussed is that of informed consent and also how a nurse may use her role to influence people and their decisions and what the implications this could cause. Throughout the assignment, personal reflective thoughts will be given to show learning and understanding. A conclusion of what has been discussed throughout the assignment will then summarise the main points and make recommendations for future practice. As a health care professional, nurses are accountable for their acts and omissions within four areas; the public, the patient, their employer and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Kozier 2008). Accountability refers to a person been answerable for their own actions (Heath el al. 1995), and also been a responsible person being able to give a rational, coherent account of their actions (Thompson et al. 2000). A nurse is accountable to their employer for the way in which they practice and this is regulated through documentation such as the contract of employment (Walsh 2000). This contract of employment is an agreement both the employee and employer enter into that is protected by law (Staunton and Chiarella 2003). ...read more.


This paternalistic position refers to the concept that a nurse has the best interests of the patient in mind and so acts of their behalf believing their actions are justified as they have the knowledge (Cherry and Jacob 2005). It could be argued that acting in a paternalistic way takes any unnecessary burden of decision making away from the patient and lets the professional decide what is best (Hewitt-Taylor 2004). However, Rumbold (2000) states that autonomy and paternalism often conflict especially in the case of informed consent. Fromer (1981) states that paternalism is only acceptable when a patient's safety is in danger, and so careful consideration is required before paternalism in informed consent can be justified. This relates to how Dimond (2004), suggests that nurses should be aware of the power they have and so should not use this power to coerce a person. However, since part of a nurse's role is to empower patients and make them as autonomous as possible (Mason et al. 2007), patients should be given the information they need to assist with decision making involving their care. As Dimond (2004) states, nurses should be aware of the power they have and know the limits of the law in which they work. Nurses must not take a competent adult's right to choose away from them and this right is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as the declaration states that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Every adult should be seen as competent until they are proven to lack capacity (Mental capacity Act 2005), and so every person should be given equal rights and the choice to make decisions on their own care. It could be assumed that in this situation, the nurse thought that the patient had already had information about the injection or had previously received it, and so thought consent had already been given, but as the DoH (2001) ...read more.


(2000) Research, ethics and the data protection legislation Nursing Standard Vol.14, No.20, P.36-41, February 2nd 2000 Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008a) What is the Nursing and Midwifery Council? NMC Nursing and Midwifery Council (2007) NMC record keeping guidance NMC Payne-James, J., Wall, I. and Dean, P. (2004) Medico-legal Essentials in Healthcare (2nd edn.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Schwartz, L., Preece, P. and Hendry, R. (2002) Medical Ethics: A Case Based Approach Massachusetts: Elsevier Health Sciences Spouse, J., Cox, C. and Cook, M. J. (2008) Common Foundation Studies in nursing (4th edn.) Massachusetts: Elsevier Health Sciences Staunton, P. and Chiarella, M. (2003) Nursing and the law Australia: Elsevier Stone, J. (1965) Human Law and Human Justice Stanford: Stanford University Press Stuart, C. (2003) Assessment, Supervision, and Support in Clinical Practice: A Guide for Nurses, Midwives, and Other Health Professionals Massachusetts: Elsevier Health Sciences Thompson, I., Melia, K. and Boyd, K. (2000) Nursing ethics (4th edn.) Massachusetts: Elsevier health sciences Thompson, I, Melia, K., Boyd, K. and Horsburgh, D. (2006) Nursing Ethics (5th edn.) Massachusetts: Elsevier health sciences. Tingle, J. and Cribb, A. (2002) Nursing law and ethics (2nd edn.) Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Walsh, M. (2000) Nursing Frontiers: Accountability and the boundaries of care Massachusetts: Elsevier Health Sciences. Nurses and the law: a guide to principles and applications By Nancy J. Brent Edition: 2, illustrated Published by Elsevier Health Sciences, 2000 Ventilatory Support for Chronic Respiratory Failure By Nicolino Ambrosino, Roger Goldstein Contributor Nicolino Ambrosino, Roger Goldstein Edition: illustrated Published by Informa Health Care, 2008 Bioethics: A Nursing Perspective By Megan-Jane Johnstone Edition: 5, illustrated Published by Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008 Deontology; or, The science of morality, from the MSS. of J. Bentham ed. by J. Bowring: or, The science of morality, from the MSS. of J. Bentham ed. by J. Bowring By Jeremy Bentham Published by , 1834 Item notes: v.1 Original from Oxford University The Road to Social Work & Human Service Practice: An Introductory Text By Lesley Chenoweth, Donna McAuliffe Published by Thomson Learning Nelson, 2005 Nursing and Midwifery Council (2006) Accountability NMC ...read more.

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