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 dementia.

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 Study:

• 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)

• Documentation

• Open disclosure

• The Coroner

2. Discuss the following ethical and professional issues in relation to this Case Study:

• 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 situation.

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.




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