Something Powerful

Tell The Reader More

The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.


  • Bullets are great
  • For spelling out benefits and
  • Turning visitors into leads.

DiversityNursing Blog

The Legal Responsibilities of Nursing

Posted by Sarah West APRN, FNP-BC

Thu, Nov 02, 2023 @ 10:28 AM

Nursing is a multifaceted profession that requires strong clinical skills, excellent problem-solving, top-notch communication skills, and a deep understanding of the legal obligations and implications of Nursing practice. The legal aspects of Nursing are just as important as the clinical aspects to ensure you are providing safe patient care. Here are some of the legal aspects of Nursing to know and understand.

Licensure and Certification

To legally practice as a Nurse, you must obtain and maintain a valid Nursing license or certification in the state you practice Nursing. Licensure is the process state boards of Nursing use to determine a Nurse has attained the educational and clinical requirements to practice Nursing competently.

Once licensure is obtained, each state has set requirements to maintain and renew licensure. Receiving and maintaining a Nurse's license is the first legal responsibility.

Scope of Practice

The Nursing scope of practice standardizes what a Nurse can and cannot do legally. For example, the scope of practice for LPN’s varies from that of an RN. Nurses must practice within the legal boundaries defined by the state in which they practice.  

When Nurses deviate from their authorized scope of practice, it can result in legal consequences. Before practicing Nursing in any state, become familiar with the set scope of practice to avoid legal implications.  

Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice is when a Nurse fails to provide patient care that meets the established standards of the Nursing profession, which results in patient compromise or harm. Malpractice has severe legal and professional consequences and can ultimately result in the revocation of your Nursing licensure.

Nursing malpractice can include physical, emotional, or financial harm or injury to a patient, medication errors, failure to report, or documentation issues.


Accurate and comprehensive Nursing documentation is a crucial element of patient care. Laws and regulations mandate Nurses maintain proper Nursing documentation to enhance communication and serve as evidence in case of legal disputes or investigations.  

To properly document your patient care, it is essential to use clear and objective language, write the facts, record care promptly, sign and date all entries, report any omissions or errors according to your facility's policies, and protect patient confidentiality and privacy. Nurses who maintain compliant documentation can protect themselves in the event of legal challenges.

Informed Consent

Informed Consent is a fundamental ethical and legal aspect of Nursing of which all Nurses must become familiar. Informed consent involves obtaining permission from the patient or their legal representative before any procedure, treatment, or intervention.  

Nurses play a critical role in informed consent as we spend the most time at the bedside. It is the responsibility of every Nurse to ensure patients are fully educated on the potential risks and benefits of the proposed healthcare action and all potential alternatives so they can make an informed decision that meets all ethical and legal standards.  


Nurses are mandated reporters, which means all Nurses have a legal responsibility to report any suspected abuse or neglect of vulnerable individuals. Nurses must be vigilant and learn to recognize signs of abuse or neglect in children, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations.  

Suppose you suspect abuse or mistreatment of a patient. In that case, it is your legal responsibility to report findings to organizations such as child protective services, elder services, or local law enforcement.

Legal issues in Nursing can have serious consequences. Staying updated on the laws and regulations specific to Nursing practice is essential to ensure you maintain the highest standards of patient care. To learn more about the legal regulations and obligations you should uphold, reach out to your state board of Nursing to learn more.

Topics: legal, legal nursing

Legal Battle Rages Over Whether to Force 17-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Have Chemo

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 01:38 PM


GTY chemotherapy jef 150105 16x9 992 resized 600

A court will determine whether a 17-year-old girl, under something called the "mature minor doctrine," can be forced to undergo chemotherapy after she refused treatment for her cancer.

How do you feel about this?

The case will go to the Connecticut Supreme court this week to determine whether the teen, identified in court papers as Cassandra, has "the fundamental right to have a say about what goes on with your [her] body," attorney Michael Taylor, who represents the teen's mother, told ABC News. Taylor was appointed by the public defender's office, and Cassandra has her own court-appointed lawyer, but they've filed joint appeals.

Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in September, but decided she didn't want to complete the prescribed treatment, according to a court summary. Her mother supported this decision, but the Department of Children and Families stepped in and ordered her mother to comply with the doctor's treatment recommendation.

"It's really for all the reasons you might imagine," said Taylor, adding that he couldn't go into more detail.

Although chemotherapy is a drug that destroys cancer cells, its side effects include hair loss, nausea, pain and fertility changes, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Cassandra underwent two chemotherapy treatments in November and then ran away from home and refused to continue treatments, according to the court summary.

A court hearing ensued in which Cassandra's doctors testified, and she was removed from her mother's home and placed in state custody so that the state could make medical decisions for her.

She has been has been living at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and forced to undergo chemotherapy for about three weeks.

The Hartford Courant reported that Cassandra has an 80 to 85 percent chance of surviving her cancer if she continues with her chemotherapy.

The state Department of Children and Families issued the following statement:

"When experts -- such as the several physicians involved in this case -- tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required. Much of the improvements in Connecticut's child welfare system have come from working with families voluntarily to realize solutions to family challenges. Unfortunately that can't happen in every situation, especially when the life of a child is at stake."

"No one is disputing that it's very serious," Taylor said. He said there's "a good chance" Cassandra could survive her cancer with treatment, and "there's a good chance she could die if she doesn't. None of us disagree about that."

Taylor said they're trying to argue that because Cassandra is competent, she should be allowed to make this decision for herself through something called the "mature minor doctrine," which has been adopted in Illinois and a few other states but rejected in Texas. The doctrine holds that some children are mature enough to make key life decisions for themselves.


Topics: chemo, minor, legal, Medical Center, State, health, healthcare, family, nurses, doctors, children, medical, cancer, hospital, medicine, treatments, chemotherapy

Recent Jobs

Article or Blog Submissions

If you are interested in submitting content for our Blog, please ensure it fits the criteria below:
  • Relevant information for Nurses
  • Does NOT promote a product
  • Informative about Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Agreement to publish on our Blog is at our sole discretion.

Thank you

Subscribe to Email our eNewsletter

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all