Legal and Professional Issues in Healthcare (SNM633)

Who is it for?

This module is suitable for all healthcare professionals with an interest in developing both an understanding of the ethical and legal context of their practice and an ability to address the challenges of practice in an ethically reasoned and justifiable way.

Overview of content:

  • Ethics and the law
  • Professional responsibility and fitness to practice.
  • Autonomy, paternalism and acting in a person’s best interests
  • Advocacy and whistleblowing
  • Hospitals should do the patient no harm - Organisational ethics

What is it about?

• Theories and frameworks for ethical reasoning that are consistent with the specific needs of healthcare
• The ethical responsibilities of professions and professionals. Understanding legal and professional accountability, a professional duty of care, patient advocacy and acting in a person’s best interests
• The ethics of organisations. Exploring why bad things happen in organisations that serve good purposes. Escalating concerns and the concept of whistle blowing
• The distribution and use of scarce resources – The role the practitioner and manager of resources in achieving ethically principled treatment and care approaches for patients

How does it enhance practice?

Either as a primary care giver or manager of resources this unit will help in achieving ethically principled approaches to the treatment and care of patients. This unit will provide participants with;
• An understanding and appreciation of theoretical ethical frameworks supporting reasoned ethical decision making and how these are relevant and applicable to their practice
• An appreciation of what constitutes an ethical dilemma and how this may be resolved in an ethically principled way
• An appreciation of the professional, legal and ethical context within which healthcare is practiced and how this influences their relationships with patients, other professionals and employers
• A forum in which to identify and critically discuss ethical dilemmas in modern health care practice with fellow health professionals

Mode of Assessment:

Assessment will through submission of a 3000 word assignment that will focus on an ethical issue relevant to your practice situation. The assignment will require you to consider the issue in respect of its legal, professional and ethical context and apply relevant theory to its description, examination and resolution.


15 credits at level 7

Course Structure:

12 week course – Online – distance learning

Start Date: 4 February 2019

Application and Funding

To apply for this course you need to complete an online application form and you can do this by selecting the "apply" link at the top right of this page. A fees and funding form will automatically be sent on submission of your application form. Details of funding options can be found on our Funding Page.

If successful in your application for the course you will receive a confirmation email with the exact details of the location of teaching, closer to the start date.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery is based at Barber House, Glossop Road, Sheffield; opposite the Royal Hallamshire Hospital however teaching may take place across the University site. Please see a map below of the Central Campus.


Programme Leader/Contact Name:

Mac Macintosh

Tel: 0114 222 2054