Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing -NCLEX Practice Test-1


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Professional Standards in Nursing - NCLEX-RN Practice Test

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Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing Practice

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1. Exchanging personal contact information with a patient is considered a violation of professional __________.

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2. Nurses must practice within the scope of their __________, which defines the legal boundaries of their professional responsibilities and actions.

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3. Which statement best reflects the ethical principle of justice in nursing practice?

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4. What are the primary responsibilities of nurses when they suspect a patient is being abused at home? (Select all that apply)

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5. When should nurses disclose errors in patient care? (Select all that apply)

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6. When faced with a conflict of interest, what should nurses prioritize? (Select all that apply)

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7. Which action by a nurse constitutes a breach of patient confidentiality?

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8. How should nurses respond to discriminatory behavior in the workplace? (Select all that apply)

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9. The Nurse Practice Act establishes __________ for nursing practice.

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10. Which action by a nurse demonstrates a commitment to patient advocacy?

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11. The nurse is asked to participate in a research study involving human subjects. What should the nurse consider before agreeing to participate?

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12. What is the primary purpose of informed consent?

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13. Nurses must adhere to professional standards of __________, which includes providing safe and competent care to patients and avoiding harm.

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14. A nurse should report a colleague suspected of impairment to the __________.

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15. Which of the following statements by a nurse best demonstrates advocacy for a patient? (Select all that apply)

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16. A nurse suspects that a patient is being abused at home. What is the nurse's primary responsibility?

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17. Which statement by a nurse best demonstrates advocacy for a patient?

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18. What are the primary responsibilities of nurses regarding patient advocacy? (Select all that apply)

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19. In what situations should a nurse consult with an ethics committee? (Select all that apply)

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20. Advance directives allow patients to specify their healthcare preferences in advance, particularly regarding __________ care, in the event they become incapacitated.

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Nursing a noble profession, is central to the healthcare system, it is inherently tied to both ethical and legal standards. Nurses are entrusted with the health and well-being of patients, requiring them to adhere to stringent ethical and legal guidelines to provide quality care.

In this article we have briefly explained the components of ethical and legal issues in nursing practice, examining how these aspects influence daily operations and decision-making in healthcare settings.

The practice test gives you the chance to test your knowledge and assess your progress in this subject. The test is designed according to the NCLEX-RN Exam format to enhance your knowledge and chance to succeed in real-time exams. There is a question bank in this test. Every time you start the test the questions will be changed randomly.

Core Ethical Principles in Nursing

Ethics in nursing involves principles that guide what is considered right or wrong in nursing practice. These principles ensure that nurses act in the best interest of patients, maintain professional integrity, and provide care that respects human dignity.

The core ethical principles in nursing serve as foundational guidelines for professional conduct and decision-making in healthcare settings. These principles ensure that nurses provide compassionate, equitable, and high-quality care while respecting patients’ rights and dignity. Nursing ethical principles consist of the following components:

1. Autonomy

Autonomy refers to respecting the patient’s right to make their own decisions regarding their healthcare.

Nurses must support patients in understanding their options and making informed choices about their care. This includes respecting patients’ wishes and preferences, even if they choose to refuse their treatment.

2. Beneficence

Beneficence is to provide benefits to patients and their families. Nurses act in the best interest of the patient by promoting their well-being.

Nurses should provide care that benefits the patient, taking actions that enhance health and prevent harm. This involves advocating for patients’ needs and providing treatments that offer the greatest benefit.

3. Non-maleficence

This ethical principle is focused on avoiding harm or injury to the patient.

Nurses need to ensure that their actions do not cause any harm to the patients, families, and their colleagues. This principle emphasizes the importance of risk assessment, patient safety, and preventing medical errors.

4. Justice

Justice refers to treating all patients fairly and equitably irrespective of their race, gender, religion, social status, and ethnicity.

Nurses should provide care without discrimination, ensuring that all patients have equal access to healthcare resources and services. This principle underscores the importance of fairness in the distribution of care and resources.

5. Fidelity

Fidelity is being faithful to commitments and maintaining trust with others.

Nurses must be reliable and trustworthy, keeping promises made to patients and adhering to professional standards. This involves maintaining patient confidentiality and being honest in all interactions.

6. Veracity

Telling the truth and providing accurate information to the patients and families is called veracity.

Nurses should communicate honestly with patients, families, and colleagues. This principle ensures that patients receive truthful information necessary for making informed decisions about their care.

7. Confidentiality

Confidentiality refers to protecting patient privacy and personal health information.

Nurses must safeguard patient information, sharing it only with authorized individuals and in compliance with legal and ethical standards. This includes adhering to HIPAA regulations and ensuring that patient data is kept secure.

These ethical principles guide nurses in delivering care that respects human dignity, promotes health, and prevents harm. They form the ethical framework for nursing practice, ensuring that nurses act with integrity and uphold the trust placed in them by patients and society.

Common Ethical Dilemmas in Nursing

  1. End-of-Life Care: Nurses often face ethical dilemmas related to end-of-life decisions, including issues surrounding euthanasia, advanced directives, and palliative care.
  2. Resource Allocation: Limited resources can lead to challenging decisions about who receives certain treatments or interventions.
  3. Patient Autonomy vs. Nurse’s Expertise: There can be conflicts between respecting a patient’s choices and the nurse’s professional judgment about what is best for the patient.
  4. Informed Consent: Ensuring that patients fully understand the implications of their treatment choices can be ethically challenging, especially in cases involving language barriers or cognitive impairments.
Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing

Key Legal Principles in Nursing

Legal issues in nursing encompass the laws and regulations that govern nursing practice. These laws are designed to protect patients and ensure a standardized level of care across the healthcare system.

  1. Licensure: Nurses must obtain and maintain a valid license to practice, ensuring they meet the required professional standards.
  2. Scope of Practice: Nurses must operate within the boundaries of their professional competence and legal scope of practice defined by state or national regulations.
  3. Negligence and Malpractice: Nurses are legally accountable for providing a standard of care. Failure to do so, resulting in patient harm, can lead to negligence or malpractice lawsuits.
  4. Documentation: Accurate and thorough documentation is a legal requirement that ensures continuity of care and provides a legal record of the care provided.
  5. Patient Rights: Nurses must uphold patients’ legal rights, including the right to informed consent, the right to refuse treatment, and the right to privacy and confidentiality.

Common Legal Issues in Nursing

  1. Malpractice Claims: These claims arise when a nurse’s actions are alleged to have caused harm due to negligence or deviation from the standard of care.
  2. Informed Consent: Legal issues can occur if a nurse fails to ensure that a patient comprehensively understands the risks and benefits of a procedure or treatment.
  3. Patient Privacy: Violations of patient confidentiality, whether intentional or accidental, can lead to legal repercussions under laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  4. Employment Law: Issues such as wrongful termination, discrimination, and workplace harassment fall under this category, affecting nurses’ professional environments.

Ethical and Legal Challenges in Nursing Practice

Balancing Ethical and Legal Standards

Nurses often face situations where ethical principles and legal requirements intersect, creating complex scenarios that require careful navigation. For example, a nurse might encounter a situation where a patient’s autonomy conflicts with the nurse’s perception of beneficence and non-maleficence.

Ethical Decision-Making Models

Nurses can utilize ethical decision-making models to navigate these challenges. One widely used model is the Four-Box Method, which considers medical indications, patient preferences, quality of life, and contextual features to guide ethical decisions.

Strategies for Managing Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing Practice

1. Education and Training

Continuous education and training in ethical and legal standards are crucial for nurses. Understanding the latest guidelines and laws helps nurses make informed decisions and provide high-quality care.

2. Institutional Policies

Healthcare institutions should have clear policies and procedures to address common ethical and legal issues. These policies provide a framework for nurses to follow and ensure consistency in handling complex situations.

3. Ethical Committees and Legal Counsel

Hospitals and healthcare facilities often have ethics committees and legal counsel available to assist nurses in resolving difficult ethical and legal issues. These resources provide support and guidance, helping to ensure that decisions are well-informed and aligned with professional standards.

4. Open Communication

Fostering an environment of open communication among healthcare providers, patients, and families is essential. This transparency helps to build trust, ensures that patients’ wishes are respected, and supports collaborative decision-making.

5. Professional Support Networks

Engaging with professional organizations and support networks can provide nurses with additional resources and guidance on ethical and legal matters. These networks offer forums for discussion, continuing education opportunities, and updates on best practices.


Navigating the ethical and legal landscape of nursing practice is a challenging yet essential aspect of the profession. By understanding and adhering to ethical principles and legal standards, nurses can provide care that is both compassionate and compliant with regulations.

Continuous education, institutional support, and open communication are key strategies in managing these issues effectively. As the healthcare environment evolves, staying informed and proactive about ethical and legal issues will remain a critical component of nursing practice.


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  5. International Council of Nurses. (2021). The ICN code of ethics for nurses.
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  12. Maryville University. (2023, September 5). Nursing ethics: Ethical decision-making for nurse leaders | maryville nursing.
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  14. Michigan State University. (2023, April 19). 5 common ethical issues in the workplace. Michigan State University.
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