Legal Issues in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing

Legal Issues in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing

  • Confidentiality and right to privacy
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (H I P A A)
      • Individuals have the rights to access their medical records, to have corrections made to their medical records, and to decide with whom their medical information may be shared
      • If information is released in an emergency, the following information must be recorded in the client’s record: date of disclosure, person to whom information was disclosed, reason for disclosure, reason written consent could not be obtained, and the specific information disclosed.
  • Doctrine of privileged communication
  • Exceptions: A duty to warn; suspected child or elder abuse
      • Assessment of a threat of violence by a client toward another individual
      • Identification of the intended victim
      • Ability to intervene in a feasible, meaningful way to protect the intended victim
  • Informed consent
      • This is the permission granted to a physician to perform a therapeutic procedure
      • Individuals have the right to decide whether to accept or reject treatment.
      • Healthcare provider can be charged with assault and battery for providing life-sustaining treatment to a client when the client has not agreed to it.
  • Restraints and seclusion
      • Restraint refers not only to leather restraints but also to any manual method or medication used to restrict a person’s freedom of movement.
      • Seclusion is a type of physical restraint in which the client is confined alone in a room from which he or she is unable to leave.
      • Injuries and deaths have been associated with restraint and seclusion, this treatment requires careful attention whenever it is used.
  • False imprisonment
      • deliberate and unauthorized confinement of a person within fixed limits by the use of verbal or physical means


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