Law and Ethics – Nursing
You are working as an EEN at Sunnyside Day Respite Centre on a morning shift.
You have had six clients come in for care today one of whom is Mrs Jocelyn Davis.
She is a regular client at the Respite Centre and has been diagnosed with moderate
At 1030 hours Mrs Davis becomes agitated and begins to wander around the
Respite Centre. The Registered Nurse in charge of the shift, RN Jolie, tells you to
restrain Mrs Davis in her chair with a lap restraint. You are not certain that Mrs Davis
needs to be restrained and you question RN Jolie’s order. RN Jolie becomes
annoyed at your question and tries to restrain Mrs Davis herself.
Mrs Davis verbally objects to being restrained and attempts to undo the restraint. In
the process her chair tips over, she hits her head on the floor and loses
consciousness. While RN Jolie attends to Mrs Davis you call the ambulance.
After Mrs Davis is taken to hospital RN Jolie tells you to say that Mrs Davis was
found after she had falle n and hit her head if anyone asks you about what happened
to her. RN Jolie also tells you not to say anything about restraining Mrs Davis as you
will both get into trouble. You feel uncomfortable about this but she is your
Registered Nurse so you say nothi ng.
Mrs Davis dies in hospital two days later. The Coroner has been notified by the
hospital and her death is to be investigated by the Coroner’s Court.
When you hear about what is to happen following Mrs Davis’ death you are unsure
and become worried about what you should do now.
1. Discuss the following legal and professional issues in relation to this Case
• Consent, restraint, assault and battery
• Duty of care, negligence and vicarious liability
• Scope of practice (the legal and professional boundaries imposed upon
you as a nurse)
• Advocacy (the nurse’s role as an advocate for the client)
• Open disclosure
• The Coroner
2. Discuss the following ethical and professional issues in relation to this Case
• How would you respond to RN Jolie when she tells you to lie about
what happened to Mrs Davis
• What are your responsibilities in this situation and what should you do
to stay within the boundaries of professional nursing practice
I n this section, you need to choose an ethical decision -making model and
discuss how you would use it to help you to make a decision about how to
respond to the RNs request to lie, and to outline what your professional
responsibilities would be in this situ ation.
There are a number of different decision -making models (see Topic 7 of your
online resource “Models for Decision Making”), but the DECIDE model is
recommended for novice nurses (and therefore student nurses), according to
Allen, Chapman, Francis and O’Connor (2008). However, all decision-making
models serve the same purpose: to provide a process through which a person
can examine, and reflect on, all the aspects of an ethical dilemma, so that
they can make a decision.
Your assessment should be wri tten in an essay format with the above legal and
ethical issues discussed under headings or as a free-flowing essay. These issues
don’t need to be discussed in the order listed and can be done in a way that is
relevant to the Case Study. For example you ma y begin your essay discussing the
requirements for a valid consent and how Mrs Davis meets these before moving on
to say how this would then influence the practice of restraint before going on to the
other issues in the Case Study.
This essay should be at least 1, 000 words and up to a maximum of 1,500 words.
You need to support your work with references from appropriate sources including
your text books, journal articles and appropriate websites. Please reference your
essay using the APA (American Psycholog ical Association) system of referencing for
both ‘in text’ references and as a references list.
Your essay is not to be based on unsupported personal opinion.
• Discuss the legal concepts of consent, assault and battery
• Apply the principles of restraint including the criteria for legal restraint and
the consequences for the illegal restraint of a person
• Explain the concepts of negligence, duty of care and vicarious liability as
they apply to this Case Study
• Demonstrate how to suppo rt client dignity, rights and interests by acting as
an advocate for the patient and family in line with the EEN scope of practice
• Discuss correct legal documentation in nursing and what documents should
be completed for this Case Study
• Apply open disclosu re to this situation in relation to your role as an EEN and
the roles of other health care workers
• Apply ethical principles to nursing practice and interactions with patients,
relatives and other health care staff
• Identify, document and report any ethical issues that may arise in nursing
• Develop and implement strategies to resolve ethical issues with this Case
Study using a moral and ethical decision making model
• Apply the Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct as well as the
Enrolled Nurse Competency Standards to this Case Study
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