Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

Nurses constantly experience ethical dilemmas and legal issues during the course of their profession. These experiences are very challenging as they compel nurses to make immediate ethical and legal choices based on the interest of patients, relatives or physicians. Under certain circumstances, nurses find themselves in great dilemma in trying to balance legal and ethical issues regarding certain medical procedures.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay


Though there are codes of ethics and legal responsibilities that nurses must adhere to, the needs of patients are very complex in that, they may result into ethical and legal conflicts. “In decision-making, the nurses’ choices and actions should reflect best clinical practice, be the right things to do morally, and be within the legal scope of policies, procedures, and practice acts” (Guido, 2009, p. 12). Hence, ethical and legal issues bind nurses in their profession. This essay analyses ethical and legal aspects of two case studies in nursing.

The first case study is an ethical issue, which falls under dilemma of autonomy. According to Smith, “…dilemma of autonomy occurs when individuals other than the patient must determine, or attempt to determine, what’s best for the patient” (2005, p. 75). Nursing ethics demands that the patient act autonomously in making informed choices about medication or other health related issues.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

In this situation, the patient had the right to deny further chemotherapy; may be because the medications were not effective or the patient had lost hope of recovering. At least, these were indications of the patient’s dissatisfaction with chemotherapy and it was ethically right for the boy to decline any further chemotherapy administration.

In contrast to the patient’s interest, the physician, the nurse and the parents acted in beneficence. In this case, dilemma of beneficence ensued as the physician, patient and family differed on the issue of medication. “Dilemmas of beneficence occur when health care providers, the patient, and/or family members disagree about what course of action is in the patient’s best interest” (Leddy & Pepper, 1993, p. 54).

The action of beneficence is an ethical aspect that requires nurses to act in the interest of the patient. Prescription of new medication by the physician with the consent of parents and compliance of the nurse to administer medication, though done against the interests of the patient, highlighted an ethical act of beneficence.

The second case study has both ethical and legal aspects regarding nursing profession. In this case, the nurse failed to act in ‘nonmaleficence’ in order to protect the patient against harm by injecting antidepressants to every new resident, but instead follow physician’s instructions blindly.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

The nurse also acted contrary to the ethical concept of veracity by lying to the patients on the kind of medication prescribed to them. The ethical principle of veracity “requires the health care provider to tell the truth and not intentionally deceive or mislead clients,” (Guido, 2009, p. 21). The nurse acted unethically by failing to comply with the two ethical principles viz. nonmaleficence and veracity.

The legal aspect of the second case is that, the nurse failed to comply with the legal responsibility of administering medication. Edwards argues that, “…nurses should always observe five rights when administering medication to the patients, that is right medicine, to the right patient, in the right dose, through the right route, and at the right time” (2007, p. 9).

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In this case, the nurse made medication errors by giving every patient antidepressant, which was wrong medication to the wrong patients. The nurse is therefore liable to lawsuit due to medication errors.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

Newspapers are full of articles about ethical and legal issues. The authors outline the numerous problems people face and explain how it is important to prepare fast responses. However, it seems that the terms “ethical” and “legal” mean equal things and are often written in the same sentences as synonyms. Though they are strongly connected, the concepts are incompatible. The terms work well together and can describe similar social situations. Nevertheless, it is necessary to determine the difference.


“Ethical” derives from the term “ethics” originated in 1588. It is related to the moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with them. “Legal” explains the concepts associated with the law and its applications. It refers to the working processes and procedures, equipment and tools, traditions and culture, and more. Actually, the “law” is the initial term of the word “legal”. In 1562, the term was used for the first time.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

Complicated modern issues can be discussed from different points of view. Many of them can be both ethical and legal. The words have the same kind of relationship. The laws originally represented the ethical values of people. They demonstrated the moral principles and the understanding of what the right thing to do was and what was considered wrong and unacceptable. Therefore, the words “ethical” and “legal” are not equivalent concepts. There are some examples when the acts can be unethical, while an ethical position may be considered illegal. The point of view is subject to change, as soon as the perception of the community modifies.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

The differences also occur when the concepts are applied. The ethical acts are voluntary; they may be mandatory for the part of the society and be unimportant for the rest. These acts are applied individually and play the most important role in families. Contrariwise, a legal act is applicable to every person in a community. Legal acts regulate the activities of the entire society. That is why it is hard to deal with the ethical issues; there are no regulatory institutions. Partially, the church can monitor the ethical issues and influence individuals who do not obey the ethical rules.

To summarize, the ethical and legal issues regulate human behavior and activities. Their scope and application are different. Ethical issues mainly concern individuals, but the legal issues are social problems and specially designed institutions help solve them. Both concepts are considered right or wrong based on human perception and traditions that can change over time.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay

One of the approaches to teaching about the ethical issues related to computer technology is the use of the ethical scenario (or case study). Unfortunately, few authors of texts for this area give any concrete methodology for analyzing such scenarios. Students, therefore, tend to flounder when asked to, for instance, write an essay about some event depicted in a scenario. This paper provides a methodology for analyzing such scenarios.Ethical and Legal Issues Analytical Essay