The Legal Aspects of Medical Malpractice

Senior (College 4th year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・7 Sources

Currently, it is vital to be aware of the legal aspect related to caring people in the health care sector. The more negligence cases, the fewer people would like to pursue a career in the medical field due to the inevitable lawsuits and legal aspects (Cherry & Jacob, 2016).

Tort Law in Nursing

Tort law comprises the legal requirement that most nurses are familiar with in the medical community. Torts law involves the negligence and malpractice which nurse should take time to learn in and outside. A patient’s bill of rights is a surety list for the patient receiving medical which may take the forms of non-binding or law declaration. It guarantees fair treatment, autonomy over a medical decision, and patient information. An intentional tort happens when an offender participates in a deliberate manner that results in harm to another individual. Negligence is inconsiderate conduct that results in damage to another person. Civil law deals with the offenses against persons or person in legal matters such as torts, contracts, and protective reporting law. In contrast, criminal law is an act against the safety or welfare of the public.

Ethical Principles in Nursing

Beneficence is ethical principles that show the idea that nurse’s action should promote good and therefore physician should refrain from causing harm. Non-maleficence means that physician should not provide ineffective treatment to the patient as it supports risk with minimal benefit (Pozgar, 2014). Veracity in nursing is a legal principle that health professionals should be honest and disclose full information to the patient; abstain from misrepresentation and report lapses of the standard to the relevant agencies. On the other hand, fidelity comprises the principle of fairness, truthfulness, dedication, loyalty, and advocacy to the patients. Professional autonomy is having authority for freedom to act on someone’s expert knowledge (Pozgar, 2014). The principle of justice comprises legal, right-based, and distributive justice. Consequentialism is based on whether the act is wrong or right depending on the results that act.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when health care provider neglects to give an appropriate treatment, actions or give poor treatment that causes injury, death, or harm to a patient. According to the medical malpractice center in the United States, yearly, there are around 15000 to 19000 medical malpractice suits against medical care (Grace, 2017). Thus, the plaintiff must show that the doctors acted negligently in giving the health care. Four elements must be proven; breach of the duty, professional duty owed to the patient, resulting damages, and injury as a result of the offense. In the medical field, there are 7C’s of professional malpractice prevention: competence, compliance, communication, charting, confidentiality, courtesy, and carefulness (Masters, 2015).

Intentional Torts in Healthcare

First, battery is one of the intentional torts which involve sending projectiles into one’s body. Secondly, assault is threatening injury or attempted battery on someone. Thirdly, invasion of the privacy requires public disclosure of private information, no authorization use of someone’s likeness to gain profit (Matt, 2012, pp.12). Conversion in intentional torts is where one takes someone’s property and converts it to mean their own. Defamation entails false information regarding another person which causes harm. Finally, intentional infliction of emotional distress; to prove the psychological distress in court, a plaintiff has to show someone engagement in outrageous conduct which caused severe bodily harm, although it is difficult to explain in court (Matt, 2012, pp.10).

Health Information Management

Health information management is the essential part of the healthcare industry that collects, analyze, maintain data that healthcare providers depend on to deliver skilled healthcare.  Current procedural technology (CPT) is a standard coding involving medical procedures and standardizing the therapeutic communication. CPT identifies the services and insurances firms use the information to evaluate the physician payment (Pozgar, 2014).  (ICD10)International classification of the diseases, 10th revision, and clinical modification is a coding system classifying the health issues and diagnoses of a patient; comprising four to seven alphanumerical denoting signs, symptoms, diseases, conditions, and injuries. Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is a medical order written by physician instructing the health care providers not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the patient’s heart stops beating (Pozgar, 2014). 

DRG(diagnosis related group) is a  way of classifying patients by lengthy of hospital stay, diagnosis, and therapies; then the result is used to determine the money health care providers receives; covers the future services and procedures for inpatient care (Butts  & Rich, 2012). HIPAA is an act of United States in 1996 that gives data privacy and security provision for safeguarding medical information. HIPAA provide insurance coverage for employees who lose or change job (Pozgar, 2014). Additionally, it fights fraud or abuse, and improves access to the long-term health care services. 

Consent in Healthcare

Consent happens when one individual voluntarily agrees to the desires of other individuals. Signed and completed consent form is a legal document that allows the doctors to proceed with the treatment plan (Pozgar, 2014). Informed consent is when health care provider discloses proper information to patients, so that the patient will make a voluntary decision on whether to refuse or accept the treatment. Informed consent should include nature of the procedure, assessment of patient understanding, reasonable alternatives to the proposed intervention, acceptable of the patient invention and finally, relevant benefits and risks. An advance directive is the written and oral instructions regarding the future medical care, if patient becomes unable to make decisions (Morton et al., 2017). Another document is a durable power of attorney that gives someone else ability to decide for you about health care in case you are unable to make that decision for yourself. 

As earlier mentioned, informed consent recognizes that patient should know about the procedure and treatment before they decide whether to have it or not. For instance, in the treatment of cancer, the radiological tech should ensure the patient should go through the informed consent process. If one is getting more than one type of treatment, then the informed consent need to be separate. For example: one for chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation (Morton et al., 2017). If the patient is under age or has a severe mental disability, then legal guardian, parent, or a person authorized is given a consent form. For instance, if the doctors do not inform the patient that the process will comprise 20% risk of losing a hand, and afterward the patient suffers the loss, the doctors are liable because the patient would have opted not to go for the operation due to the risk involved (Morton et al., 2017).

An incident report in a healthcare facility is a filled form that records the details of unusual events. The form is crucial when dealing with the liabilities issues in future. Written consent provides an observable proof of patient’s wishes. The function of the written consent form is to preserve evidence of informed consent, the nature of the risks, treatment, consequences, and benefits which should be incorporated in the consent form. Apart from that, oral consent if proved, is as binding as the Witten consent. It is because there is no legal requirement that the patient’s consent should be in written form. However, the oral consent is more difficult to prove (Pozgar, 2014).


Apparently, the code of ethics shows how the nurses proficiently and safely enact their moral selves and professional to patient, society and in general. Ethical outrage occurs when an individual witnesses the immoral act of another but feels powerless to end or stop it (Morton et al., 2017). The nurse should be conversant with the legal aspect of nursing which should be kept throughout their career life. Code of ethics documents reflects the profession’s ethic norms or core values.


Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2012). Nursing ethics. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Cherry, B., & Jacob, S. R. (2016). Contemporary nursing: Issues, trends, & management. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Grace, P. J. (2017). Nursing ethics and professional responsibility in advanced practice. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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

Matt, S. B. (2012). Ethical and legal issues associated with bullying in the nursing profession. Journal of Nursing Law, 15(1), 9-13.

Morton, P. G., Fontaine, D., Hudak, C. M., & Gallo, B. M. (2017). Critical care nursing: a holistic approach. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Pozgar, G. D. (2014). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers."

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