Trappings of technology: casting palliative care nursing as legal relations
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Justice and Law
Community palliative care nurses in Perth have joined the throng of healthcare workers relying on personal digital assistants (PDAs) to store, access and send client information in ‘real time’. This paper is guided by Heidegger’s approach to technologies and Habermas’ insights into the role of law in administering social welfare programs to reveal how new ethical and legal understandings regarding patient information add to nursing’s professional responsibilities. This qualitative research interprets data from interviews with twenty community palliative care nurses about clients’ legal rights to informational privacy and confidentiality. It explores nurses’ views of their nursing responsibilities regarding clients’ legal rights, liability issues, bureaucratic monitoring and enforcement procedures. It concludes that nurses and clients are construed as legal subjects entrenched in legal relations that have magnified since these nurses began using PDAs in 2005/2006.