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Nursing Essay On Ethical, Professional, And Legal Consideration Of Nurse Kate


Task: In this assessment, you are required to consider the Case Study below and outline the ethical, legal and professional considerations of Kate’s conduct with Billy. You also need to determine if Kate has deviated from the acceptable standards of that expected of a registered nurse.

Case Study
Kate is a newly graduated registered nurse working on the orthopaedic ward. She is caring for Billy, a young man who has fractured his tibia and fibula playing football. Billy is in hospital for a few weeks receiving treatment and during this time, Kate cares for him on several occasions.

During Billy’s admission, he finds and adds Kate as a friend on Facebook©, and Kate accepts. When Billy is discharged, he gives Kate his phone number and they see each other outside of the hospital. Kate continues to access Billy’s medical records to inform him of results and doctors notes during his recovery. Over time, Kate and Billy form a romantic and sexual relationship.


Ethical, professional and legal standards are an important part of nursing activities to help the nurses to offer their duties in most effective and ethical way. It helps in describing the competent level of care in the most effective way in all phases of nursing process (Zahedi et al., 2013). The major role of these standards is to maintain a safe and clinically competent nursing practice. Registered nurse is a person-centered practice that are registered and follow these standards to be effective in their service The essay analyzes the ethical, professional and legal consideration of the nurse Kate in the case and determined if Kate has deviated from the acceptable standards of a registered nurse.

Ethical Considerations

The ethical considerations in the case is the nature the registered nurse that is Kate offers towards the patient that is Billy. Moreover, it is also important to ethically consider the way Kate shares information with the patient even after he leaves the hospital. Based on National Ethical code of nurse it is seen that the nurses should respect the dignity and respect of the patient when giving nursing care (Zahedi et al., 2013). Based on this it can be said that Kate has successfully complied by the ethics of respect and has effectively maintained her duty of care responsibility, which is ethically correct. Further, it is seen that nursing code of ethics also means to fulfill their moral duties effectively when it comes to the administration. Based on this, it is seen that Kate has failed and acted unethically when sharing clinical or medical records of the patient even after he has been discharged from the hospital. The nurse has the ethical responsibility to behave in a responsible manner when it comes to clinical records (Sasso et al., 2008). She failed to inform the doctor before sharing the medical records or treatment process to the patient. This act is ethically wrong as Kate failed to oblige by her moral duties of being true and ethical towards her duties and not forming any personal relation with the patient.

Legal Considerations
There are different types of legal considerations that the nurse has to comply by when following their nursing duties. The major four legal elements of nursing are duty, breach of duty, damages and causation that can lead to legal issue. Breach of duty is usually caused due to invasion of privacy and discloser of information and becomes a legal consideration. In case of Kate and Billy it is seen that Kate has deviated from the acceptable legal standards, which is expected from a registered nurse. Kate has failed to oblige by her legal duty of discloser of information, which is similarly important to invasion of privacy (Winland-Brown, Lachman& Swanson, 2015). She disclosed the medical documents of the patient without informing the doctors. Moreover, the environment when she disclosed the information was outside the acceptable area. Kate shared the medical records after the patient was discharged and informed him over phone or face to face, which has the potential of being overheard. Thus, she will face legal issue based on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Poorchangizi et al., 2017). Moreover, Kate failed to oblige by the acceptable legal standards of offering clinical care and communicating with the patient only during the term of patient’s care. Most of the legal consideration in this respect is the failure to abide by Privacy Act when it comes to nursing profession.

Profession Consideration
Along with legal and ethical standards and considerations it is also important to consider professional codes that registered nurses are expected to follow. Some of the most important professional code that the registered needs to follow are to establish a relationship that differentiates boundaries between professional and personal relations, communicate respectfully and provide care when the patient is in need of care, think critically and analyzes nursing practice, maintain capability of practice, conduct comprehensive practice and others. One of the most important professional code of conduct that Kate was seen to breach was the profession code of engaging in therapeutic and professional relationships. Therapeutic relationships are always important in a nursing situation where professional boundaries should be there between the nurse and the patient (nursingmidwiferyboard, 2020). However, Kate breached this professional boundary and developed a personal relation with Billy her patient on social media even when he was in hospital under her care.

The personal information that the nurse known about the patient and the personal information that patient knows about the nurse creates an imbalance between nurse-patient relationships. Thus, it is a professional standard that the registered nurse maintain a patient-centered relationship. This standard was breached by Kate over time, as she did not maintain a patient-centered relationship with Billy. Moreover, it is seen that a nurse’s use of social media in another area that blurs the lines between professional and personal lives. Thus, using social media in relation to patient has breached the patient’s confidentiality and has violated the professional boundary. Kate was seen to breach her professional code in relation to social media usage as well as the personal relation she formed with Billy. Moreover, Kate has the professional code of maintaining process standard that stated the way communication of medical record should take place (ncsbn, 2020). Kate breached that professional code by sharing the medical process of Billy outside the medical boundary and while indulging in personal relation with him after he was discharged. This shows the professional code that a nurse needs to abide by and Kate has failed to do so.

In conclusion it can be stated that the nurses are obliged to abide by various legal, ethical and professional code when in this profession and giving care to the patient. However, it is seen that Kate has violated all these codes in some manner or the other and has breached her duty as a registered nurse. She has behaved unethically by sharing medical records outside the medical boundaries and without the permission of the doctor. Moreover, she has also failed to act legally and professionally in various aspects where she formed personal relationship with her patient within the term of service itself.

ncsbn. (2020). A Nurse’s Guide to Professional Boundaries. Retrieved 2 April 2020, from
nursingmidwiferyboard. (2020). Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Registered nurse standards for practice. Retrieved 2 April 2020, from
Poorchangizi, B., Farokhzadian, J., Abbaszadeh, A., Mirzaee, M., &Borhani, F. (2017). The importance of professional values from clinical nurses’ perspective in hospitals of a medical university in Iran. BMC medical Ethics, 18(1), 20. Sasso, L., Stievano, A., Gonzalez Jurado, M., & Rocco, G. (2008). Code of ethics and conduct for European nursing. Nursing Ethics, 15(6), 821-836.

Winland-Brown, J., Lachman, V. D., & Swanson, E. O. C. (2015). The new'Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements'(2015): Practical clinical application, Part I. Medsurg Nursing, 24(4), 268. Zahedi, F., Sanjari, M., Aala, M., Peymani, M., Aramesh, K., Parsapour, A., ...&Dastgerdi, M. V. (2013). The code of ethics for nurses. Iranian journal of public health, 42(Supple1), 1.

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