Legal and Ethical Responsibilities

Legal and Ethical Responsibilities

Summary of the case

The case focuses on the life after the retirement of Ms. Grace H. who had been an English teacher at Pine Junction. After retirement, she sold her house and went to live in Happy Valley Nursing home. She had suspected suffering from dementia. While in the nursing home, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was among the happiest ladies at the nursing home, but as time went by, she became isolated and withdrawn from the rest, and the caregivers decided to look up into the situation which shown that her platelet count was low. They contacted the lady’s brother who said that they would want to learn the causes of the low count. She has been transferred to a hospital where she is using experimental medicine that has caused swelling of her hand to double size. The brother came to visit and asks why they were doing that to her. Grace, however, did not want anything special to be done to her in the event she was dying neither did she want to be resuscitated.

Legal and Ethical Aspects of the Case Study

Ethical Aspect        

Respecting the wishes of patients; The Nursing Home should respect the will of each patient. In this case, the nurses and hospital administration should have respected what Ms. Grace wanted not to be given special treatment in the event she appeared to be dying. Respect is an ethical value that should be adopted.

Legal aspect

Inhumanity; The city hospital violated Ms. Grace rights by carrying out a test on her which she never gave consent to. Neither she nor her brother ever agreed to her getting experimental drugs aimed at availing platelet production.

Violation of rights

The head nurse communicates directly with the brother who acts as her health attorney regarding her present health condition. He ends up giving his consent on her transfer to the city hospital. In this case, Ms. Grace is not involved in the transfer decision and thus amounts to the violation of her legal rights of notification. The hospital also violates Ms. Grace Rights by treating her without any consent from her brother who acts as her health attorney. The brother only agrees to her transfer and monitoring to identify the problem with her. He does not give any legal directives to the hospital to give her any form of treatment.

Laws that pertain to the situation

Receiving patients consent

Every patient must be involved in any decision making involving her health condition. This ought to be done in an open, transparent manner (Buka, 2014). All the medical procedures to be taken need to be put forward together with the possible risks. The patient needs to fully aware and informed on the impacts of the medical procedures and the degree of optimism (Brazier, 2016). He or she should not go through a medical procedure without informed agreement from him or her and her heath attorney. In the case, Ms. Grace never gave her consent to go through the medical procedure, and her health attorney does not give the hospital a go-ahead for treatment. They give her experimental drugs and feed her through an indwelling IV. She is never enlightened about all these procedures, but she is subjected to them unwillingly.

Patients transfer and continued monitoring.

A patient has a right to receive full enlightenment on reasons for transfer (Huber, 2017). He or she should be notified of what he or she requires doing to improve her health on discharge from the facility (Buka, 2014). In the case, the communication takes place between the head nurse and her brother who is her health attorney. Ms. Grace does not get any reason for her transfer from the community hospital to the city hospital.

Relationship between legal and ethical responsibilities

The legal and ethical responsibilities are related to each other. Ethical responsibilities emphasize on doing the right thing about the surrounding (Masters, 2015). Violation of the ethics means that one will be harming those who surround him or her. This will amount to rights violation and will now venture into the legal aspect.

In the case, the nursing home never respected the wishes of Ms. Grace. She never wanted any special treatment in the event she was dying. They decided to take her to the community hospital and later to transfer her to the city hospital, all without her consent. This amounts to the violation of rights to information, transfer, and consent. All these violations originated from the nursing home not paying attention to its ethical responsibilities.

Recommendation and plan of action

Consent; the care team should begin by relaying transparent, complete information on the patient’s health condition. They should enlighten them on the risks and probability of success on opted medical procedures. The patient should know the impacts associated with treatment and the level of optimism. This, when observed, will help ease the patients and avoid law suits on the part of the care team.

Transfer; the hospital should inform the patient before transferring them because some may not be willing to be transferred. This ensures that the patient is comfortable at all times even after being transferred to another hospital.


Conclusively, medical institutions and Practitioners need to take good care of their patients. They should always consider the needs of the patient so that they can avoid any violation of rights. This ensures that the institution is respectable. Experiments should never be done on human beings as they may lead to adverse effects.


Buka, P. (2014). Patients’ Rights, Law and Ethics for Nurses. CRC Press.

Brazier, M., & Cave, E. (2016). Medicine, patients, and the law. Oxford University Press.

Masters, K. (2015). Role development in professional nursing practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Huber, D. (2017). Leadership and Nursing Care Management-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.

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