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Which of the following has mandated that nurses are to have a basic understanding of the Canadian legal system?
a. Provincial and federal nursing bodies
b. The Supreme Court of Canada
c. Provincial nursing labour unions
d. The Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act, 1990

Correct A: Provincial and federal regulatory bodies, as well as the Canadian Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses have certain requirements related to nurses’ knowledge and skill.


Why do nurses need to have an understanding of ethics?
a. Nurses do not share the same perspectives of health care with other health care professionals.
b. Morality and care are at the heart of nursing practice.
c. Ethics enables nurses to choose the correct course of action.
d. Convincing family members of compassionate courses of action is best done by nurses.

Correct B: Nurses study ethics because morality and care are at the heart of nursing practice.


Why is it advantageous for nurses to have knowledge of ethical theories and principles?
a. It encourages nurses to critique others’ points of view.
b. It allows nurses to justify and defend their positions on a situation.
c. It allows nurses to use rhetoric to convince an interdisciplinary team.
d. It allows nurses to convince patients to choose comfort measures only.

Correct B: It is appropriate for nurses to justify and defend positions on an ethical patient situation. Often the nurse knows the patient best and has relevant information to contribute to the decision-making process.


Why must nurses be familiar with the legal system?
a. Some nursing actions are governed by the law.
b. Nurses’ decisions may not be supported by the law.
c. Nurses are sometimes at risk for litigation.
d. All of the above.

Correct D: Reserved or controlled acts, and the administration of narcotics, are two examples of nursing actions governed by law. A nurse may think an action is “ethical,” but it may not be legal. Nurses’ decisions sometimes have untoward consequences, and errors or omissions may lead to negligence claims.


In addition to having obligations to clients, nurses also have rights regarding what they can expect as professionals.

Correct: Like all Canadians, nurses have rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nurses must consider these rights in the context of their responsibilities and obligations to clients.


In order for society to hold nurses to a high standard of competence, restrictions are necessary on rights and privileges.

Correct: Some restrictions are necessary to keep up high standards. Education, collective bargaining, duties to patients, and the legal system all contribute to organizing the collective rights and privileges of nurses as a professional group.


The field of ethics is gaining prominence in part because of the growing sophistication of science and technology, which results in an increasing number of ethical dilemmas.

Correct: Recent advances in genetics and reproductive biotechnology, for example, have opened up an entirely new array of ethical dilemmas not previously known.