HIPAA, Ethics, and Legal Practice Questions with Answers and NCLEX® Review

HIPAA, Ethics, and Legal principles are all critical components in everyday nursing practice. Each of these areas provides guidelines and requirements for nurses to follow to ensure that they provide safe and ethical care to clients.

HIPAA, Ethics, and Legal Practice Questions with Answers

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    Introduction to HIPAA, Ethics, and Legal

    Nurses must be knowledgeable about HIPAA, ethics, and legal compliance while integrating them into their daily practice. By doing so, nurses can ensure that they provide safe and ethical care to their clients while also protecting client privacy and complying with legal requirements.

    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a US law that regulates the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. As a nurse, it’s important to understand HIPAA regulations and how to protect client privacy and confidentiality.

    Ethics refers to the practice of moral principles and values. Nursing ethics provides a framework for nurses to make decisions about client care based on ethical principles, such as respect for client autonomy. Nurses must balance their ethical obligations with legal requirements and institutional policies.

    Legal compliance also plays a significant role in nursing practice. Nurses are required to follow state and federal laws, institutional policies, and standards of practice. Failure to adhere to regulations can result in legal consequences.

    Confidentiality and Privacy with HIPAA in Nursing

    HIPAA is a law protecting the right to privacy for clients. It regulates how a client’s personal health information (such as diagnosis or test results) is used and disclosed.

    Nurses and health care professionals are both legally and ethically required to protect clients’ privacy and maintain the confidentiality of their medical information. 

    These privacy rules are huge on the NCLEX and are always tested on exams. We must protect client information and keep it private.

    Ethical Principles in Nursing

    Ethical principles in nursing provide guidance for nurses to make decisions and act in the best interest of their clients. 

    They provide a foundation for nursing practice and help nurses navigate complex ethical dilemmas. Nurses should strive to integrate these principles into their daily practice and seek guidance from ethical codes and institutional policies when faced with ethical challenges.

    Ethical Principle Key Terms


    The client’s right to make their own healthcare decisions – “always in control.”. 

    Ex. Respecting a client’s right to refuse a treatment.


    To protect the client’s rights, health, and safety – “advocate.” 

    Ex: Reporting critical changes in the client’s condition.


    Doing and promoting good – “benefit.” 

    Ex: Calling a client’s family to tell them “critically ill and we are caring for their needs.”


    To stay loyal & follow through – “faithful.” 

    Ex: Follow through with your responsibilities.


    To treat fairly and equally. 

    Ex: Provide care equally regardless of race, gender, religion, culture, etc.


    To avoid causing harm – “no mal-intent.” 

    Ex: Double-checking a drug dosage with another nurse.


    To tell the truth – “very Honest.” 

    Ex: Med error with no adverse effects, but still reporting it.

    Ethics of Care

    In nursing, the ethics of care places the client at the center of care and emphasizes the nurse-client relationship. It recognizes that caring is not only about technical skills or medical procedures but also emotional support, comfort, and compassion. 

    Nurses who adopt the ethics of care approach recognize each client’s unique needs and experiences and aim to provide individualized care that respects their values, beliefs, and preferences.


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    Informed Consent in Nursing

    Informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement designed to protect client autonomy and ensure that clients are fully informed about the benefits, risks, and alternatives to a proposed treatment or procedure before they consent.

    It’s a critical component of nursing practice that involves obtaining a client’s permission to perform a medical procedure, treatment, or intervention. 

    As part of the informed consent process, nurses are responsible for ensuring that clients clearly understand the proposed treatment or procedure, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives. 

    This includes providing information about potential side effects, complications, and potential outcomes and answering any questions the client may have.

    To obtain informed consent, nurses must also ensure that clients are capable of making decisions about their healthcare. This means that clients must have the capacity to understand the information provided, weigh the risks and benefits, and make a decision based on their own values and preferences. 

    If a client lacks the capacity to make decisions, the nurse must work with the client’s surrogate decision-maker, such as a family member or legal guardian, to obtain consent.

    Advanced Directives

    In nursing, advanced directives play a crucial role in ensuring that clients receive care that is consistent with their values, beliefs, and preferences. Therefore, nurses must be knowledgeable about advanced directives and work with clients to ensure that their wishes are documented and respected.

    Nurses must ensure that advanced directives are integrated into the client’s medical record and communicated to all health care team members. 

    Against Medical Advice (AMA) & Refusal of Care

    Against Medical Advice (AMA) is a term used in healthcare to describe a situation where a client chooses to leave the hospital or refuse medical treatment against the advice of their health care provider. 

    When a client chooses to leave the hospital or refuse medical treatment against medical advice, nurses must ensure that the client understands the potential consequences of their decision. This includes explaining the risks and benefits of the treatment or hospital stay and discussing the possible health consequences of leaving against medical advice.

    Nurses must also document the client’s decision in the medical record and obtain a signed form indicating that the client has been advised of the risks and benefits of their decision. This documentation is critical if the client experiences adverse outcomes due to their decision to leave against medical advice.

    In some cases, nurses may need to involve other health care team members, such as a physician or social worker, to address concerns related to the client’s decision. This may include providing additional education or counseling, or exploring alternative treatment options that may be more acceptable to the client.

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    Amy Stricklen

    During my exam, I could literally see and hear him going over different areas as I was answering my questions.

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    Amy Stricklen

    Mandatory Reporting

    Mandatory reporting is a legal requirement for healthcare professionals, including nurses, to report certain types of suspected or confirmed abuse, neglect, or other criminal activities to appropriate authorities. 

    The purpose of mandatory reporting is to protect vulnerable individuals, such as children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities, from harm.

    In nursing, mandatory reporting may include reporting suspected or confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect, elder abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault. Nurses must be aware of the specific reporting requirements in their state and follow the appropriate reporting procedures when required.

    When a nurse suspects that abuse or neglect has occurred, they must first ensure that the individual is safe and seek medical attention if needed. They must then report the suspected or confirmed abuse to the appropriate authorities, such as child or adult protective services. 

    In some cases, nurses may also be required to report the abuse to law enforcement.

    Nurses must also document their observations and actions in the client’s medical record, including any conversations with the client or family members and any referrals made to other healthcare providers or support services.

    Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

    As a nurse, it’s important to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. Here are some common signs and symptoms:

    Physical Abuse:

    • Unexplained bruises, burns, or injuries in various stages of healing.
    • Injuries that are inconsistent with the explanation provided by the caregiver.
    • Multiple injuries in different locations.
    • Fear or avoidance of physical contact with the caregiver.
    • Aggression or violence towards others.

    Sexual Abuse:

    • Difficulty walking or sitting.
    • Unexplained sexually transmitted infections.
    • Blood or discharge in underwear.
    • Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond the child’s age or developmental level.
    • Reporting sexual abuse or making disclosures that are suggestive of sexual abuse.


    • Poor hygiene, malnutrition, or dehydration.
    • Inadequate clothing for weather conditions.
    • Chronic unaddressed medical problems.
    • Frequent absence from school.
    • Being left unsupervised or in unsafe situations.

    Emotional Abuse:

    • Excessive withdrawal, fear, or anxiety.
    • Displaying extremes of behavior, such as aggression or passivity.
    • Expressing delayed or disrupted emotional or cognitive development.
    • Excessive compliance or acting inappropriately (adult-like).
    • Difficulty forming relationships with peers or adults.

    It’s important to remember that these signs may not always be present in cases of abuse or neglect, and some signs may indicate other issues. As a nurse, if you suspect that a child may be experiencing abuse or neglect, report your concerns to the appropriate authorities, such as Child Protective Services or law enforcement. 

    You can also work with other health care team members to provide support and referrals for the child and their family.

    Child Abuse and Neglect Nursing Interventions

    Overall, the nursing interventions for child abuse and neglect aim to ensure the safety and well-being of the child, provide support and referrals for the child and their family, and prevent future incidents of abuse or neglect.

    • Report concerns to the appropriate authorities, such as Child Protective Services or law enforcement. Depending on your location, you may be legally mandated to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. 
    • Assess the child’s physical and emotional well-being. 
    • Document your observations. This can help identify signs of abuse or neglect and track any changes in the child’s condition. 
    • Provide support and referrals for the child and their family. This may include referrals to mental health services, social services, or other community resources. 
    • Collaborate with other health care providers, including physicians, and social workers, to ensure that the child receives comprehensive care and support. 

    Characteristics of Child Abuse and Neglect Perpetrators

    As a nurse, it’s important to be aware of the characteristics of child abuse and neglect perpetrators, as it can help to identify and prevent future incidents of abuse or neglect. 

    It is important to remember that these characteristics do not necessarily mean that a person is a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, and that perpetrators can come from all backgrounds and walks of life. 

    Here are some common characteristics of perpetrators:

    History of Abuse

    Perpetrators of child abuse and neglect may have a history of being abused themselves as children. They may have learned abusive behaviors as a result of their own experiences, and may not know how to parent in a non-abusive manner.

    Substance Abuse

    Perpetrators may have issues with substance abuse, which can impair their judgment and increase the likelihood of abusive behaviors.

    Mental Health Issues

    Perpetrators may have underlying mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, that can contribute to abusive behaviors. They may also lack appropriate coping skills or have difficulty managing their emotions.

    Social Isolation

    Perpetrators may be socially isolated and lack support from family or friends. This can increase stress and make it more difficult to manage parenting responsibilities in a healthy manner.

    Financial Stress

    Perpetrators may experience financial stress, making it difficult to provide for their children and increasing the likelihood of abusive behaviors.

    Unrealistic Expectations

    Perpetrators may have unrealistic expectations for their children, such as expecting them to perform at an advanced level or meet specific goals. When these expectations are not met, it can lead to frustration and abusive behaviors.

    Elder Abuse and Neglect

    As a nurse, you can play a key role in preventing elder abuse and neglect. By taking these actions, you can help to prevent elder abuse and neglect and ensure the safety and well-being of older adults in your care. 

    • Learn about the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect, as well as the risk factors that may make an older adult more vulnerable to abuse. 
    • As part of your assessment, screen older adults for potential abuse or neglect.
    • Ensure that older adults are aware of their rights, including their right to make decisions about their own care and treatment. 
    • Provide emotional support and resources to older adults who may be experiencing abuse or neglect. 
    • Encourage open communication between older adults and their caregivers, and between older adults and their healthcare providers. 

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