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Chapter 4: Legal Aspects of Nursing


undefined, object
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(legal) a written response made by the defendant
an attempt or threat to touch another person unjustifiably
the willful or negligent touching of a person (or the person's clothes or even something the person is carrying), which may or may not cause harm
Breach of duty
a standard of care that is expected in the specific situation but that the nurse did not observe
Burden of proof
the duty of proving an assertion
a fact that must be proven that the harm occurred as a direct result of the nurse’s failure to follow the standard of care and the nurse could have (or should have) known that failure to follow the standard of care could result in such harm
Civil action
deals with the relationship between individuals in society
Civil law
the body of law that deals with relationships among private individuals
Common law
the body of principles that evolves from court decisions
(legal) a document filed by the plaintiff
a written or verbal agreement between two or more people to do or not do some lawful act
Contract law
the enforcement of agreements among private individuals or the payment of compensation for failure to fulfill the agreement
Contractual obligations
duty of care established by the presence of an expressed or implied contract
Contractual relationships
vary among practice settings
the process of determining and maintaining competence in practice
an act committed in violation of public (criminal) law and punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment
Criminal action
deals with disputes between an individual and the society as a whole
Criminal law
deals with actions against the safety and welfare of the public
if malpractice caused the injury, the nurse is held liable for damages that may be compensated
(legal) outcome made by a judge
(legal) a communication that is false, or made with careless disregard for the truth, and results in injury to the reputation of another
(legal) person against whom the plaintiff files a complaint against
transferring to a competent individual the authority to perform a selected nursing task in a selected situation
(legal) pretrial activities to gain all the facts of the situation
the nurse must have (or should have had) a relationship with the client that involves providing care and following an acceptable standard of care
Expert witness
one who has special training, experience, or skill in a relevant area and is allowed by the court to offer an opinion on some issue within that area of expertise
Express consent
an oral or written agreement
False imprisonment
the unlawful restraint or detention of another person against his or her wishes
a crime of a serious nature, such as murder, punishable by a term in prison
a link that must exist between the nurse’s act and the injury suffered
Gross negligence
involves extreme lack of knowledge, skill, or decision making that the person clearly should have known would put others at risk for harm
the client or plaintiff must demonstrate some type of harm or injury (physical, financial or emotional) as a result of the breach of duty owed the client. The plaintiff will be asked to document physical injury, medical costs, loss of wages, "pain and suffering," and any other damages
Impaired nurse
a nurse whose practice has deteriorated because of chemical abuse
Implied consent
consent that is assumed in an emergency when consent cannot be obtained from the client or a relative
Implied contract
a contract that has not been explicitly agreed to by the parties but that the law nevertheless considers to exist
Informed consent
a client's agreement to accept a course of treatment or a procedure after receiving complete information, including the risks of treatment and facts relating to it, from the physician
see Harm
Interstate compact
an agreement between two or more states
Invasion of privacy
a direct wrong of a personal nature, it injures the feelings of the person and does not take into account the effect of reveled information on the standing of the person in the community
A rule made by humans that regulate social conduct in a formally prescribed and binding manner
the quality or state of being legally responsible for one’s obligations and action and to make financial restitution for wrongful acts
defamation by means of print, writing, or pictures
a legal permits granted to individuals to engage in the practice of a profession and to use a particular title
the action of a lawsuit
the negligent acts of persons engaged in professions or occupations in which highly technical or professional skills are employed
Mandated reporters
a role of the nurse in which he or she identifies and assesses cases of violence against others, and in every case the situation must be reported to the proper authorities
second degree murder
a legal offense usually punishable by a fine or a short-term jail sentence, or both
Mutual recognition model
a new regulatory model developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which allows for multistate licensure
failure to behave in a reasonable and prudent manner
a person claiming infringement of legal rights by one or more persons
Private law
(civil law) the body of law that deals with relationships between private individuals
Public law
refers to the body of law that deals with relationships between individuals and the government and governmental agencies
Res ipsa loquitur
"the thing that speaks for itself"
Respondeat superior
a legal term meaning "let the master answer"
a privilege or fundamental power to which an individual is entitled unless it is revoked by law or given up voluntarily
the obligation associated with a right
defamation by the spoken word, stating unprivileged (not legally protected) or false words by which a reputation is damaged
Standards of care
detailed guidelines describing the minimal nursing care that can reasonably be expected to ensure high quality care in a defined situation (eg, a medical diagnosis or a diagnostic test)
Statutory law
a law enacted by any legislative body
an organized work stoppage by a group of employees to express a grievance, enforce a demand for changes in condition of employment, or solve a dispute with management
a civil wrong committed against a person or a person's property
Tort law
law that defines and enforces duties and rights among private individuals that are not based on contractual agreements
the period during which all the relevant facts are presented to a jury or judge
Unprofessional conduct
one of the grounds for action against the nurse's license
the outcome made by a jury

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