Nursing focuses on aspects such as caring, preventing harm, and safeguarding the dignity of the client, as well as advocating the role of nurses that call for defending of the rights of clients. There are eight principles that nurses encounter and should abide within clinical settings, namely: autonomy (personal freedom and right of self-determination); veracity (truth-telling); beneficence (duty to safeguard good actions); justice (fairness and treating all equally); nonmaleficence (duty to prevent harm from happening); paternalism (allowing the nurses to make decisions for individual patients); fidelity (duty to abide by one’s promises and commitments; and, respect for others, anonymity and confidentiality. Nurses should abide to administrative law and statutory law regulating the nursing practice. The paper explores instances in which laws and ethics may be antagonism and how nurses can negotiate such conflicts.
Nurses at all levels and in all facets of specialization should comply with strict ethical guidelines and operates as per various governmental and regulatory statutes. Frequently, the interaction between ethics and law is complex; however, professional nursing ethics mainly followed within the confines of the law are highly likely to be legally defensible. Nurses may come across diverse dilemmas, legal or ethical in nature amid their practice; nevertheless, some of the nurses may not be prepared to respond to such issue and may end up helpless in the event that questions regarding their ethics or conduct are raised (Robley, 2009).
A law represents a rule concisely laid down whereby any deviation from the set rule attracts punishment; however, ethics are not measurable and cannot be concisely defined like law. Ethics mainly depend on personal perception of issues and are complex to be outlined into right or wrong. A nurse most frequently comes into contact with the law via potential or imminent litigation in which the nurse may have engaged in, or observed in some action that led to the legal action (Timby, 2009). The nurse also encounters legal issues in the event that a disallowed act is perpetrated in the case of negligence and misconduct, which predisposes the nurse to criminal liability.
Nurses encounter diverse situations on a day-to-day basis that may be classified as either ethically correct yet legally objectionable, or vice versa. Situations such as abortion, death, and euthanasia by their pure nature may place the nurse into a dilemma. Examples of situations that can be outlined as relating to nursing laws and ethics are numerous and diverse (Timby, 2009). One of the situations that could be arise details a nurse giving a patient the wrong medication, and subsequently failing report the incident or concealing the situation to safeguard himself from legal action. This situation raises pertinent questions centring on both ethical and legal issues (Robley, 2009). The second situation that could be ethical rather than legal may entail permitting a client to smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons. Another situation that could emerge bordering legal and ethical boundary centres on forcing a patient to assume something not in favour of his or her wishes or devoid of informed consent.