Knowledge of Ethical & Legal Issues for Nurses

 
 
 
 
Nurses usually receive little or no formal training in ethics and law, and so are unqualified to deal with these issues when they encounter them in the clinical setting (Ramsey, 2000). Ethical and legal issues stemming from such medical issues as organ donation, end-of-life care, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, genetic engineering, and managing patient confidentiality in the age of electronic data management are all part of the modern practice of nursing, and there are ethical, legal, and regulatory mandates that require a knowledge of these subjects in healthcare professionals so they can participate in ethical decision-making. Many nurses feel powerless and this often leads to inaction in nurses faced with these decisions, and so they withdraw from the issue and nothing changes. Nurses need to become proactive in ethical and legal issues relating to the care of their patients, and need to spearhead a move to form ethics committees, or to participate in those already in place in their healthcare organizations. This knowledge is vital to nurses, and they need guidance on how to deal with their inadequacies in this area of nursing.

While theories of ethics abound, most fit into three broad categories: deontological theories, which derive from the duties human beings owe to one another, and emphasize human dignity; teleological theories, which look at right and wrong, and the "goodness" or "badness" of actions; and principalism, an evolving theory to assist nu

     
 
 
 
    

 

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