It is a legal system and tool used by public health officials to improve, promote and protect the health and well-being of their communities. The legal infrastructure is an important component of public healthcare, as it gives the authority, direction, and support needed for actions in public health.
Public health has a legal infrastructure that includes many laws, regulations and policies. These are applied at all levels of government, including local, federal and state. The laws are divided into different areas, such as food safety, disease prevention, environmental protection, and emergency preparedness. Also included are laws relating to the collection of, use and distribution of public health information.
Legal infrastructure in public health can have a major impact on the engagement of nurses and their patient outcomes. Nurses are better equipped to perform their duties when there is alignment of the organization’s values and its legal infrastructure. The nurses will be more engaged and satisfied with their jobs, leading to better patient outcomes.
When there are policies and laws in place that mandate the reporting of infectious disease, for example, nurses can better identify cases and notify public health authorities. It helps prevent disease spread in the community, and ultimately can improve the patient’s outcome.
Alternatively, if there is an ethical disconnect between the organization’s values and the public health legal infrastructure, then nurses could face dilemmas which can result in decreased patient engagement as well as potentially adverse outcomes. Nurses may be conflicted if, for example, an organization fails to prioritize the reporting of infectious diseases to the public health authorities. They are then unable to balance their duties to protect the confidentiality of patients with their obligations to reduce the spread and prevention of disease.
Summary: The legal infrastructure in public health has a major impact on the role of nurses when it comes to promoting and protecting community health. If there’s alignment between an organization’s values and its legal framework, then nurses can better fulfill their roles, leading to improved outcomes for patients.