Nursing Malpractice: Legal and Ethical Implications

Working in the nursing environment means complying with a range of legal and ethical standards that allow increasing the quality of care and meeting the needs of the target population efficiently. The decisions made by nurses may have massive legal implications unless the existing standards of ethics are met. Although the propensity toward negligence seems to have significant effects as far as legal regulations are concerned, these are the instances of malpractice that produce the greatest legal effects.

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Indeed, since nursing malpractice implies a conscious choice that affects the health and well-being of a patient drastically, it must be recognized as the greatest reason for concern. It should be borne in mind that, while not being restricted to the instances of negligence, the phenomenon of malpractice also embraces it. Furthermore, deliberate or accidental injury of a patient falls under the category of malpractice (Griffith & Tengnah, 2014).

The identified scenario implies the violation of the common law and, therefore, may trigger a loss of the nursing license (Pozgar & Santucci, 2015). Moreover, malpractice in nursing can result in a lawsuit from patients, especially those that have suffered significantly as a result of negligence or a similar issue caused by the lack of care.

For instance, in the scenario that involves choosing between disclosing personal information of an underage patient to their legal guardians, a nurse may disregard some of the factors and withhold the crucial information, thus, causing a problem (e.g., the guardians may fail to meet the patient’s needs and lead to an aggravation of the case). In the situation described above, convincing the patient to share some of the information could lead to a better understanding between the patient and the family members.

Therefore, legal issues in nursing are numerous and complicated. It is essential to promote a responsible attitude and ethical behavior among nurses. Thus, the needs of patients will be met successfully.


Griffith, R., & Tengnah, C. (2014). Law and professional issues in nursing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Learning Matters.

Pozgar, G. D., & Santucci, N. (2015). Legal aspects of health care administration. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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