Legaland Ethical Aspects of Health Care Delivery

Lawand Ethics in health care delivery

Lawsare rules enforced in social institutions and they govern people’sbehaviours. In health care delivery, service providers have the legalmandate to adhere to specific laws that dictate how activities are tobe executed. Ethics depict the moral principles that definebehaviour. There is a relationship between the law and ethics onhealth care issues. For example, laws guide on the legal requirementsa medical facilitator has to uphold while ethics are principles thatare beyond a given law. Individuals have the mandate to act by thestipulated ethical standards. Because of the same, it would belogical to conclude that laws and ethics in healthcare are parallel.

Thenurse’s ethical responsibility on non-maleficence requires them touphold the safety of a patient. It entails measures to preventpatients from any harm and not causing injury to them. The otherprinciple of a nurse’s ethical responsibility is beneficence itrequires taking action by eliminating harm and promoting good.Beneficence can raise ethical dilemma since the right action underthe circumstances could vary between the nurse and the patient.Autonomy depicts the other moral principle that states the patienthas a right to self-determination and the patient makes decisionswithout interference from others. Nurses have a responsibility toadhere to what is right. Justice requires nurses to act in the rightway by offering efficient services to patients. It focuses onequitable access to care and equal resource provision. Justicerequires a nurse’s availability in providing care and creating afriendly working atmosphere when with a given patient.

OnLena’s case, she faced an ethical conflict between respecting thepatient’s confidentiality and protecting her sister. The preferredcause of action would be the protection of the patient’s rights bynot revealing the HIV status of the sister’s boyfriend.Lenacan use other means to protecting her sister. It could entailadvising her to go for an HIV test to confirm her status. Lena hasthe ethical mandate not to reveal the HIV status by letting hersister’s boyfriend make the choice of informing his partner abouthis condition. According to the Legal and Ethical Issues in MedicalPractice, Including HIPAA, chapter 3, on Confidentiality Issues andMandatory Disclosure, it states

Whenit is necessary to break confidentiality and when there is a conflictbetween ethics and confidentiality, discuss it with the patient. Ifthe law does not dictate what to do in the situation, the attendingphysician should make the judgement based on the urgency of thesituation and any danger that might be posed to the patient andothers.”

Therefore,Lena should act ethically and advice the boyfriend to inform hersister of the situation.

TheHIPAA states that a patient’s information should only be shared forthree purposes, treatment, payments, and operation. If Lena were toshare the boyfriend`s HIV status with the sister, she would beviolating HIPAA regulations on patient’s disclosure act (Epstein,2002).She would legally break her responsibilities as a nurse. In AmericanNurses’ Association (ANA) provision number 4

Thenurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursingpractice makes decisions and takes action consistent with theobligation to promote health and provide optimal care.

Thelaw and ANA support Lena’s conduct as being ethical by notinforming her sister about the boyfriend’s state.

Shehas alternatives on how to help her sister without violating legaland ethical responsibilities she is expected to uphold.


AmericanNurses Association. (2010).&nbspNursing:Scope and standards of practice.Nursesbooks. org.

Fowler,M. D. M. (2008).&nbspGuideto the code of ethics for nurses: Interpretation and application.Nursesbooks. org.

Epstein,R. A. (2002). HIPPAA on Privacy: Its Unintended and IntendedConsequences. CatoJ.,22,13.