NCLEX Memory Hints: Legal Terms and Concepts

NCLEX Memory Hints: Legal Terms and Concepts

There are multiple legal terms and concepts to be aware of for the NCLEX exam. A select few include the Board of Nursing, professional responsibilities, malpractice insurance, Good Samaritan Law, and torts.

Torts are wrongful acts that are committed against a person or a property. Select unintentional and intentional torts are covered.

Unintentional torts

Unintentional torts include negligence which is not acting as a prudent nurse and acting below the acceptable standard of care. Negligence includes commission which is doing something wrong (e.g., operating on the wrong body part). It also includes omission which is failing to do something. 

Intentional Torts

Assault and battery

Assault and battery are frequently interchanged. Assault is when a patient is fearful. Battery is violence in the form of touching or contact with a patient. As example of battery is starting an IV on a competent patient who is refusing the procedure.

Libel and slander

Libel and slander are both forms of defamation of character and involves passing along something that is not true, or you don’t have the right to pass it along. Libel is defamation by writing. Slander is defamation through verbal communication. 

False imprisonment

False imprisonment is restriction of patient decisions and movements. It includes putting a competent patient in restraints and making them believe they cannot leave the hospital. Patients with schizophrenia are not reality based and can be restrained. Patients with obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder are reality and could sign themselves out AMA. 

Invasion of privacy

Invasion of privacy is unauthorized access to information, giving out information to others, or taking pictures without permission. Except in an emergency, information can only be released to the people the patient has designated. In the case of a patient making threats against another person, there is a legal obligation to warn the person the threat is directed to.


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