5.1 Legal Implications Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Examine nursing practice within the legal framework of health care
  • Examine how negligence and malpractice apply to nursing practice
  • Provide nursing care within one’s legal scope of practice
  • Analyze legal cases related to nursing practice utilizing standards of care
  • Outline how to protect one’s nursing license
  • Operate within the legal framework of one’s state Nurse Practice Act
  • Examine the role of the nurse when observing illegal and/or unsafe practices
  • Report client conditions as required by law
  • Maintain client confidentiality and privacy
  • Verify the client receives appropriate education and consents for care and procedures
  • Provide client with advance directives information and integrate into their plan of care

Nurses are responsible for being aware of the laws and regulations affecting their nursing care in the state(s) in which they are practicing. If allegations are made regarding a nurse’s professional conduct or provision of client care, the excuse “I did not know” does not hold up in a court of law or with a state’s Board of Nursing. This chapter will provide foundational legal knowledge for nursing practice in complex health care environments.


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