Literature review on nursing and healthcare informatics ethics and the law

Nursing as a healthcare profession is guided by predetermined ethical issues which make it certain that any activities carried out are in line with the stated law. To this regard, there exist moral issues which are pegged on data collection or information management in nursing organizations. In this case, privacy is one of the vital ethical issues that nursing professionals should observe while undertaking information management in the organization. According to the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) Code of Ethics, the universal principles of informatics morals provide the rule of information privacy and disposition. This asserts that all people have a basic right to privacy and confidentiality. Thus, it assumes that there should be control on collection, access, storage, communication, manipulation, disposition and use of data of all persons (Giddens, 2013). As a result, nursing professionals have the duty to ensure that the privacy of all persons in regard to their data is guaranteed in the organization.
A breach on the confidentiality of information of persons exposes the nurses to severe consequences which carry business and personal liability. Thus, carrying out any unwarranted actions may pose a personal liability to the individual nursing professionals. However, in other instances these intentional actions would lead to a business liability to the nursing organization. This occurs when the nursing administrators or organization had a duty to uphold confidentiality and hence a breach to this would tender liability to them. This requires that any information must be handled with a heightened level of quality and professionalism. In legal terms, nursing administrators have a responsibility to maintain the privacy of the employees and the clientele served by the organizations. Information management in nursing organizations is bound to a fiduciary obligation of respecting the confidentiality of person’s data. Hence, no disclosures should be made without the will of the holder or without seeking the relevant legal actions. Therefore nursing administrators and organizations must practice due care while handling confidential information of their clients or employees.
Privacy as an ethical issue is based on the fact that respect is core in ensuring a morally upright society. In the nursing profession it is also core that privacy of informatics be practiced as a way of ensuring that the autonomy of people and their dignity is upheld by the profession. Privacy of information is also essential in building trustworthy relationship between the nursing organizations or administrators and the persons that they serve (Hinchliff, 2008). In the recent times there has been an increased propagation of computerized nursing information systems which provide electronic databases and records for clients and employees. Adoption of this technology requires that privacy of patient’s information or any other information should be stored while maintaining a high level of privacy and confidentiality. As stated earlier, a breach of this confidentiality attracts grave consequences which would lead to liability on the side of the nursing administrators or organization. The IMIA code of ethics terms privacy as a duty which should be foreseen by the nursing administrators or the organization.
Failure to maintain the required levels of confidentiality could as well lead to lose of jobs for nursing administrators or tarnishing the image of nursing organizations. To help in addressing this vital ethical issue, organizations would implement some strategies to counter any breach of confidentiality. To begin with, nursing organizations and administrators should formulate policies which ensure that confidential information is fully protected. Secondly, the organizations must also ensure that any discharge of confidential information is rational and limited to given uses by the relevant persons (Saba & McCormick, 2006). Thirdly, the organizations can also devise programs of training their employees on the ways of upholding confidentiality of information pertaining patients and other persons. Lastly, organizations would also be required to limit the disclosure, use and retention of confidential information amongst the nursing administrators. These strategies would help in ensuring that this ethical issue is observed and practiced by the entire organization.


Giddens, J. (2013). Concepts for nursing practice. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby/Elsevier.
Hinchliff, S., Norman, S., & Schober, J. (2008). Nursing Practice and Health Care 5E. Hodder Education.
Saba, V., & McCormick, K. (2006). Essentials of nursing informatics. New York: McGraw-Hill, Medical Pub. Division.