Nursing Legal Obligations

Nursing Legal Obligations
Nursing Legal Obligations

Nursing Legal Obligations

Nursing practice is bounded by various legal obligations. These laws are in accordance with the nursing ethics which guides the nature of conduct of nurses. In Australia, there is a specific nursing code of conduct that each nurse is expected to abide by in their operation. Moreover, the Parliament of Australia enacted a social act that nurses should operate within.

The primary objectives of having to adhere to legal obligations in nursing is to protect all the individuals who are affected by the nursing practice and the nurses themselves. According to Day (2007), nurses often face situations that require quick and critical decision making. In such circumstances, Carryer,, (2013) argues that if a nurse fails to consider the overlaying rules regarding what to do, he or she may end up making a mistake that could be punishable by law.

For instance, the Australian rights of terminally act introduced a law which allows active voluntary euthanasia. However, this may go against the law if a nurse carries out euthanasia with consent from the family members of the sick person and not that of the sick individual. Even though the nursing legal and ethical conduct laws are different, they operate through closely related frameworks. However, nursing legal obligations regarding mental health sometimes crashers with the ethical requirement of the nursing code.

Under my specialty which is mental health, the law has set out directives of when a person can be admitted (Carryer,, 2013). In the requirement, a single medical officer or nurse cannot fully ascertain that one needs to be admitted but it has to be agreed by several health officers. This legal obligations may be good in preventing unwarranted admissions, however, it sometimes contradicts with the nurses’ believe of offering help.

Mental ill individuals might not always know that they are sick, there is need for someone else to point that out. Before that happens, one cannot be treated for mental illness. This becomes problematic in a situation where there is an urgent need to treat a mental ill person yet the legal obligations procedure of ascertaining that the person is ill has not occurred.

These individuals might be involved in self destructive activities of which another person may not point out easily. Therefore, as per Doran, (2015), if the proper procedure for identifying their problems is followed, treatments can be administered when it is too late. My resolution is that I will offer consultative help to the individual first before administering any medication. This way, I will be able to offer help them in advance and yet again still remain within the legal obligations confines of the Australian nursing laws.


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Trinkoff, A.M., Geiger-Brown, J.M., Caruso, C.C., Lipscomb, J.A., Johantgen, M., Nelson, A.L., Sattler, B.A., & Selby, V.L. (2008). Chapter 39. Personal safety for nurses. Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. Retrieved from:

Day, G. E. (2007). Legal issues for nursing students. Australian Health Review, 31(2), 315. Retrieved from 

Carryer, J., Gardner, G., Dunn, S., & Gardner, A. (2013). The capability of nurse practitioners may be diminished by controlling protocols. Australian Health Review, 31(1), 108-15. Retrieved from

Doran, Evan, BA, Grad Dip Health Soc Sci, P., Fleming, Jennifer, BA, M.H.A., PhD., Jordens, Christopher, BA, M.P.H., PhD., Stewart, Cameron L, Bec, L.L.B., PhD., Letts, J., M. Bioeth, & Kerridge, Ian H, MPhil(Cantab), F.R.A.C.P., F.R.C.P.A. (2015). Managing ethical issues in patient care and the need for clinical ethics support. Australian Health Review, 39(1), 44-50. Retrieved from  

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