Discussion: legality and ethics

Legality is the state of being legal or lawfulness. In other words, it means strict adherence to law or observance of the law. On the contrary, ethics are the moral principles that govern or control an individual’s behavior (Lazaro, 2004).  Ethics are the morals that people live by that guide in knowing right from wrong. In healthcare, legality involves compliance with the rules and regulations in the field of healthcare, while ethics refers to aspects that guide moral decision-making in the practice of medicine (Lazaro, 2004). Ethics majors more on human rights and wrongs, whereas legality majors more on what is written in law. Despite the difference, legality and ethics help resolve disputes in the healthcare setting.

There exist different legal and ethical violation case examples in the field of healthcare. In terms of legal, in 2014, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center joined the list of healthcare organizations to be charged with HIPAA breach. The two hospitals were fined $4.8M for the violation (McCann, 2014). The organizations failed to comply with the set HIPAA policy. This is a violation of legality in the healthcare setting. In terms of ethics, in 2013, a nurse’s failure to give CPR led to death (Rosenblatt, 2013). In this case, a licensed nurse refuses to give CPR to a woman because of a policy in the organization. It is ethically wrong for the nurse to fail to render help to women because of the rules of the company. This is a violation of ethics in the healthcare organization.


Lazaro, R. T. (2004). Ethical and legal analysis of a patient case. Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 2(1), 11.

McCann, E. (2014). Hospitals fined $4.8M for HIPAA violation. Retrieved from: https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/hospitals-fined-48m-hipaa-violation

Rosenblatt, C. (2013). Nurse Refuses To Give CPR, Senior Dies: Ethical Problem Or Legal Issue? Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2013/03/08/nurse-refuses-to-give-cpr-senior-dies-ethical-problem-or-legal-issue/#3505338c3537

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