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Nursing Essay: Ethics & Legal Standard In Australian Nursing Role


Assessment two task instructions:
Critically identify and discuss the relevant legal and ethical considerations in relation to the case study provided below. Critical evaluation involves giving your verdict as to what extent a statement or findings are true or to what extent you agree with them. Provide evidence from a wide range of sources which both agree with and contradict an argument. Come to a final conclusion and discuss this, basing your decision on what you judge to be the most important factors and justify how you have made your decision. Ethical considerations relate to the ethical principles that guide professional nursing practice.

Detailed Instructions:

  1. Read the case study below and critically identify and discuss the relevant legal and ethical issues from a nursing perspective.
  2. Write a response to the nursing essay topic above using essay structure with an introduction, body paragraphs - that include the key points listed above - and conclusion

Case Study:
Amy is a second-year nursing student at Federation University. She is currently on a three-week clinical placement at Sunny Hills Hospital.

In March 2020, Amy was driving home from a friend's birthday party at 2 am and was pulled over by the Police for a random alcohol and drug test. Amy's alcohol breath test result indicated she had an alcohol level of 0.25 and she tested positive for cocaine.

As a result, her driving licence was cancelled immediately, and she was charged with high range drink driving and driving under the influence of illicit drugs. She appeared in the local Magistrates Court, was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs, was fined $1,000, her driving licence was suspended for six months and she was awarded three demerit points.

Amy was able to organise lifts from her friends during the six months and regained her driving licence in September 2020. She remembered from the Legal and Ethical issues in Clinical Practice course in first year that she was supposed to notify AHPRA regarding her conviction. She was concerned that she would not be able to complete her nursing degree if anyone knew about her conviction, so she only told close friends.

During the first week of this clinical placement, Amy noticed that the medication cupboard in the ward was regularly left unlocked. She had been having trouble sleeping due to working shift work so one day she stole a bottle of sleeping pills and a bottle of strong pain killers to give to her friends. Unfortunately, she did not notice that another nurse had seen her take the medications and reported the theft to the Nurse Unit Manager of the ward. Amy was reported to the police and to the Federation University Clinical Placement Co-ordinator.


There are multiple health care organizations, standards as well as policies running within every health care setting in Australia with a chief role in guiding and supporting the nursing facilities with their responsibility and nursing practices. Nurses have been provided with a major role within the health care setting which is known to hold and connect every individual and stakeholders of the health care organization. Thus, it is necessary for them to practice their role of nursing under proper ethics and standards in order to ensure public health safety as well as better health care outcomes. The ethical and legal norms and standards of nursing have been developed by the department of health of Australia with supervision and collaboration of other health care organizations and policies. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia is one of the known organization of nurses which has been supporting the nurses with proper ethical and legal guidance about their roles and responsibilities (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021). It explains the fact that any error or misconduct in their role may lead to the development of a major threat to the lives of the public as well as hampers their professional values.

Thus, in order to evaluate the efficacy of these nursing codes and standards, the case study of Amy, a student nurse will be assessed. It has been found that Amy being a student nurse working within a health care organization conducts certain unethical and unlawful acts which according to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia was punishable and unethical. Thus, the assessment will highlight the misconducts conducted by Amy and counter them with the codes and legal standards provided by the different organizations running within the health department of Australia.

Nurses have been provided with a renowned and respectful place within the health care setting due to the services and multiple roles they deliver to the people and the nation (Fliedner et al., 2021). They have been recognized as health care advocates, educators, nurses, care providers, medication administrators, and many more in order to ensure every need and demands of the people are fulfilled with better outcomes. Thus, to enhance their role and service with better outcome and professionalism, there are codes and standards provided with organizations such as the Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council, and many more which specifically functions for the betterment of the role of nurses (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021).

Amy has been working on clinical placement as she is a second-year nursing student. While her clinical period she has been accounted to be working against nursing ethics and values which have developed a major threat for herself, her career as well as the health of others. Thus, focusing on the case study of Amy, the issues, as well as misconducts carried out by Amy, has been evaluated with the help of the codes and standards of Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council and Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA.

The health practitioner regulation national law of Australia has been known to play a significant role in the development and distribution of the codes and standards of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021). It has been providing regulation, policies, standards, and codes to the health care organization to develop a nursing workforce compatible enough to handle, manage and maintain effective health care delivery (Usak et al., 2020). Thus, violating any of these rules and ethics leads to threatening the health care service and people along with causing disrespect to the law. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) AHPRA has been developed respectfully to educate, train and guide the nurses with the ethics and law they need to maintain and ensure that no illegal act or violation of ethics is conducted. The lawful behavior is one of the codes of Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) AHPRA which serves in explaining and demonstrating the role of nurses where they need to respect every always within the nation which can be social or health care oriented (NMBA, 2021). It is necessary that nurses do not break any law and must carry out service with respect to every law. The laws and ethics are mandatory to maintain and follow within the working ground as well as outside the workplace as a nurse respects their role during duty and when not in duty as their aim is to ensure better health for the people (NMBA, 2021). It was found in the case study of Amy that she was returning from a late-night party where she sued illicit drugs and alcohol and was caught driving by the cops due to which her license was suspended for 6 months. There are different drug laws within the premise of Australia carried out by the supervision of the Australian Government Department of Health which includes the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 as well as the ACT Criminal Code 2002 which has been explaining the rules and laws related to the usage of illicit drugs and riving using alcohol (Belackova et al., 2017). Focusing on these laws, it was found that Amy was found breaking the national law as well as other health care codes and standards which makes her susceptible to punishable offenses. It was found that using the illicit drug by Amy was itself a major crime under the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 as well as the ACT Criminal Code 2002 which further got associated with drinking and driving (Belackova et al., 2017). Amy carried out a step where she developed a situation of harm for herself as well as others and demonstrated a bad image of a nurse to the public.

Apart from lawful behavior, there is another code of conduct guided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA which is relevant to the case study of Amy. As it was found that Amy used illicit drugs and alcohol and was driving due to to which she got her license suspended for 6 months and a penalty of $1000. Amy did not mention this act of using drugs and giving to anyone from his health care organization and kept it hidden. Thus, focusing on the incident as well as the act of misconduct, it has been found that mandatory notification plays a significant role within the phase of incidence (Bryant et al., 2020). It is guided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA, that of any misconducts or unlawful activity is carried out by any health care professional or nurse, it is necessary to immediately notify the incidence in detail to the Nursing and Midwifery Board AHPRA in order to make them aware of the act and take appropriate action against the issue (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021). Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has made it necessary to maintain mandatory notification within the health care setting to ensure that every act or misconducts are reported and recorded so that no neglecting behaviors is missed and remained unidentified and unaddressed that may hamper the health of people (NMBA, 2021). Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) also demonstrates a major role in assessing criminal records and illegal conducts of nurses and health care professionals in order to ensure that health care of the nation is provided in safe hands. Thus, focusing on this, it was found that Amy has broken significant and essential ethics and laws of health care organization which makes her accountable to penalties which may harm her professional practice as well. It thus explains the fact that Amy should have immediately reported and notified the incident to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as well as other professionals in order to make sure that the offense was penalized in consideration of the loyalty of Amy (NMBA, 2021). As Amy did not notify and hide the incident from others, it made her unfaithful as inappropriate to trust which is known to be a violation of the code of ethics of Nursing and Midwifery Board Code. As the code states that a nurse must be faithful and trustworthy in her role as well as responsible.

The mandator notification of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) of the Nursing and Midwifery Board Code also accounts for another misconduct carried out by Amy (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021). It was found that Amy was observing for continuously days that the medication cabinet was not closed or locked as the shift in charge was not properly locking the cabinet and conducting her duty. Amy was supposed to mandatorily notify the incident back to the in-charge or the superior nurses in order to make sure medication is not used for the bad purpose (Qalla-Widmer & Petignat, 2019). Instead, it was found that Amy was unable to sleep due to workload thus, she stole painkillers for her friends and sleeping pills for herself so that she can use them to calm herself and sleep. Thus according to the mandatory notification of the Nursing and Midwifery Board Code, the superior nurses or the manager should have been notified as well as guided by about the misconduct, and Amy should not have misused the opportunity and used the medication for her personal usage (NMBA Code of Conduct, 2021). Steeling medication, and other resources of the health care setting are known to be an unethical and illegal act that is beyond any professional conduct (Morris, 2020). It is stated that nurses must not administer any medication to anyone without proper prescription or authorization of superior to ensure patient safety and betterment (Hammoudi, Ismaile & Abu Yahya, 2018). The step taken by Amy could have surely hampered the health and stability of Amy as well as those she provided the pain killers. Amy misconducts her role as well as the responsibility she is provided with as a nurse which develops a major threat for her career (Cusack, 2018). Amy thus becomes susceptible to the cancelation of her nursing license as the conducts she maintained in the last few days were unforgivable and beyond the law which explains that providing health care to a nurse like Amy will risk the lives of the public. It is thus recommended that even if any misconduct is occurred due to misjudgment or fault, it is necessary to confront and take immediate action to resolve the fault so that no further harm is carried out.

Thus, to conclude the case study assessment of Amy based on ethical and legal norms, it is relevant to discuss the major findings from the assessment. It was found from the assessment that nurses possess critical as well as important roles within a health care organization where their actions are known to impact many people. It majorly influences the condition of a public health concern as any issue or error may lead to morbidity or mortality in a massive number. It is thus necessary for Amy and other nurses to property and professional maintain their nursing practice with ethics and legal norms. It was found that the acts conducted by Amy within the health care setting and outside the workplace were unethical and unlawful and were offensive enough to lead to hampering the public health concerns. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) AHPRA and codes of conduct of nursing facilities held in identifying the errors conducted by Amy and provide proper information about the accurate ethical and legal steps that should have been taken place in terms in nursing practice. It was found that a nurse’s behavior and appearances outside the health care organization reflect on her professional life, as using illicit drugs and alcohol and driving late at night was beyond legal ground and must have threatened lives.

From the above the roles and responsibilities of a nurse can be highlighted. From the above I get to know how an ethical and legal aspects of a nurse’s responsibilities can impact its patient and give rise to many such complication. Amy during her placement has violated several ethical and legal norms which further got identified by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) AHPRA and codes of conduct of nursing facilities. The whole discussion helped me in identifying the steps or the punishment that can lead if such issue is find in the nursing practice. It will help me during my future clinical practice in maintaining all the ethical and legal responsibilities of a nurse while delivering care to the patient.

Belackova, V., Ritter, A., Shanahan, M., & Hughes, C. E. (2017). Assessing the concordance between illicit drug laws on the books and drug law enforcement: comparison of three states on the continuum from “decriminalised” to “punitive”. International Journal of Drug Policy, 41, 148-157.

Bryant, K., Aebersold, M. L., Jeffries, P. R., & Kardong-Edgren, S. (2020). Innovations in simulation: Nursing leaders' exchange of best practices. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 41, 33-40.

Cusack, L. (2018). Changes to code of conduct and code of ethics new code of conduct for midwives now in effect for all midwives. Australian Midwifery News, 18(1), 14. Retrieved from:

Fliedner, M., Halfens, R. J., King, C. R., Eychmueller, S., Lohrmann, C., & Schols, J. M. (2021). Roles and Responsibilities of Nurses in Advance Care Planning in Palliative Care in the Acute Care Setting: A Scoping Review. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 23(1), 59-68. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000715

Hammoudi, B. M., Ismaile, S., & Abu Yahya, O. (2018). Factors associated with medication administration errors and why nurses fail to report them. Scandinavian journal of caring sciences, 32(3), 1038-1046. Retrieved from: fail_to_report_them/links/5a21544c4585150259b853d8/Factors-associated-with-medication- administration-errors-and-why-nurses-fail-to-report-them.pdf

Morris, L. (2020). A Real Situation: Drug Diversion in Nursing. AAACN Viewpoint, 42(1), 8-9. Retrieved from:

NMBA Code of Conduct. (2021). Retrieved 16 May 2021, from

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Qalla-Widmer, L., & Petignat, C. (2019). Assessement of the influenza burden in nursing homes during two influenza seasons. European Journal of Public Health, 29(Supplement_4), ckz187-073.

Usak, M., Kubiatko, M., Shabbir, M. S., Viktorovna Dudnik, O., Jermsittiparsert, K., & Rajabion, L. (2020). Health care service delivery based on the Internet of things: A systematic and comprehensive study. International Journal of Communication Systems, 33(2), e4179. Retrieved from: systematic_and_comprehensive_study.pdf


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