Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope

Given the multifaceted nature of consumer health and its moral and constitutional underpinnings, both moral and constitutional concerns must be considered. Regarding this, the undermanaged pain case of an 85-year-old widow admitted in a care institution suffering from significant osteoarthritic and osteoporotic pain proves to go against the legal and ethical standards of caregivers. According to clinical ethics’ non-maleficence principle, safeguarding customers’ safety and preventing them from suffering injury or damage is a top responsibility for healthcare practitioners (Kadivar et al., 2017). As a result, it has been the most heavily stressed feature of the global quality of patient care. From the case study of the 85-year-old, the following ethical and legal aspects of the medical team and family members of the patient can be withdrawn.

First, among the medical team, there lacks professionalism in delivery of their services to the patient in concern. Professionalism and patient protection are essential ideas in medicine that are inextricably linked. Patient safety demands the establishment and enforcement of a professional code of ethics (Kadivar et al., 2017). From the case study, it shows issues of negligence from the medical staff when the daughter of the patient calls the state regulatory to complain of her mum’s negligence. Additionally, the eighty-five-year-old is prescribed with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that severely affects her health, leading to her getting hospitalized.

Secondly, the patient is not involved in decision-making concerning the different drugs being prescribed to her and, as such, they violated her right to autonomy. The idea of personal autonomy, or patients’ fundamental ability to self, underpins collective decision (Gulbrandsen et al., 2016). By sharing information with patients, asking them to debate treatment alternatives, and involving them in decision-making, one can respect their autonomy, obtain more personalized outcomes, and reduce complaints (Gulbrandsen et al., 2016). From a professional standpoint, it inextricably linked moral standards in healthcare quality to core medical commitments, and may even serve as the wellspring of other ethical values stressed in medicine.

Throughout the United States, unlike in many other nations, individual states rather than the national government have governed the health malpractice law. In the above mentioned case study, a case of negligence and denial to right of autonomy of the patient is clear and as such are medical malpractices. Additionally, in the United States of America, the right to informed consent is partially guaranteed by state and federal legislation. For instance, the 42 Code of Federal Regulations and 482.13 in the United State enumerates that patients have the right to be informed of their health status and participate in the management.

Nurses are responsible for recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas that affect both patients and staff. From the case study in question, the ethical principles include the lack of autonomy and non-maleficence. Firstly, autonomy demands clinicians to respect their patients’ and customers’ liberty. Clinicians can provide their patients and customers with the information necessary to comprehend the benefits and risks of a suggested solution, along with appropriate alternatives, in order for them to make informed choices (Sedig, 2016). The concept of autonomy prevents healthcare workers from attempting to force patients to take an action or follow a treatment plan that is not in their greatest advantage. However, this is not the case of the eighty-five-year-old woman who her liberty is infringed by her caregivers.

Secondly, Non-Maleficence provides for the physicians and clinicians not to do any harm to their patients. All healthcare personnel, as per the ANA Standards for practice, should thoroughly analyse each scenario before taking actions (Olson & Stokes, 2016). Decisions made intentionally or without realizing can affect patients, the community, and other clinicians and healthcare professionals. The ethical principle, Non-Maleficence encompasses four dimensions, that is, an action should not be absolutely wrong, every activity should be beneficial, an impact should never stem from the wrong conduct and conclusively, outcomes should always exceed negatives. However, this is not the case of the doctor who prescribes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to the eighty-five-year-old woman as it results in a fatal health outcome of the patient.

From the case study, some details that require resolution are negligence and the inclusion of the patient and or the family members in decision-making when offering medication. For instance, in reducing negligence for better patient health outcomes, then following treatment guidelines is efficient in improving care quality and reducing variation (Raveesh et al., 2016). Further, Raveesh et al (2016) suggest that physicians cannot be with their patients at all times and advocate for the use of technology devices such as wearable technologies to help monitor their patients’ health. The evidence of negligence shows that errors frequently emerge not due to a scarcity of information, but from the unthinking use of untested behaviors and the involvement of untested feelings.

In ensuring that the patients’ autonomy is considered, the physician must advise the patient of all risks and side effects that could plausibly occur during the process, regardless matter how minor they are. Additionally, the treating physician should discuss viable alternative treatments and the consequences of non-treatment (Raveesh et al., 2016). Only once a patient has received complete information regarding the potential risks associated with a clinical process is it possible for the patient to offer informed consent to the procedure.

For the above recommendations to be effective, the organization should adopt care that is family-centered strategy. The family-centered strategy has transformed how healthcare institutions deliver care for patient by enhancing employee satisfaction, lowering expenditure, and enhancement of patient satisfaction (Clay & Parsh, 2016). Establishing relationships with clients’ families is vital as it assists patients in discovering how their own strengths and weaknesses affect their health and health care.


Clay, A. M., & Parsh, B. (2016). Patient-and family-centered care: It’s not just for pediatrics anymore. AMA journal of ethics, 18(1), 40-44. Web.

Gulbrandsen, P., Clayman, M. L., Beach, M. C., Han, P. K., Boss, E. F., Ofstad, E. H., & Elwyn, G. (2016). Shared decision-making as an existential journey: aiming for restored autonomous capacity. Patient Education and Counseling, 99(9), 1505-1510. Web.

Kadivar, M., Manookian, A., Asghari, F., Niknafs, N., Okazi, A., & Zarvani, A. (2017). Ethical and legal aspects of patient’s safety: A clinical case report. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 10, 15. Web.

Olson, L.L., & Stokes, F. (2016). The ANA code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements: Resource for nursing regulation. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 7(2), 9-20. Web.

Raveesh, B. N., Nayak, R. B., & Kumbar, S. F. (2016). Preventing medico-legal issues in clinical practice. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 19(Suppl 1), S15–S20. Web.

Sedig, L. (2016). What’s the role of autonomy in patient-and family-centered care when patients and family members don’t agree? AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(1), 12-17. Web.

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"Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope." NursingBird, 19 Aug. 2022,


NursingBird. (2022) 'Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope'. 19 August.


NursingBird. 2022. "Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope." August 19, 2022.

1. NursingBird. "Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope." August 19, 2022.


NursingBird. "Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Case Studies: Walking the Tightrope." August 19, 2022.