Legal rules and principles regarding issues of malpractice affecting Malaysian nurses are found in the English Common Law.
Section 3 of the Malaysian Civil Law Act 1956 [Act 67] provides that unless there is any written law in force in Malaysia, the courts in Malaysia shall apply the Common Law of England and the Rules of Equity as administered in England on April 7, 1956.
Nurses had never been entrusted with formal responsibilities that may have had major legal consequences and have taken a rather passive role in such decision making.
However, the recent changes in the provision of health care in Malaysia have united doctors and nurses as partners.
Modern health care settings have placed greater emphasis on the nurses' role in planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care.
These extended roles have forced Malaysian nurses to become more involved in practices that may have profound individual legal consequences.These unresolved conflicts may cause feelings of frustration and powerlessness that can lead to compromises in patient care, job dissatisfaction, or disagreements among those on the health care team.6 Nurses need skills and guidance to help resolve ethical conflicts.The education of Malaysian nurses about the demands of law and ethical standards would promote greater accountability, knowledge, and personal commitment in providing health care to individuals throughout their life span.Nurses provide a comforting human interface between patients and the hospital, and between communities and the health care system thus forming the "heart" of medical and health care service provision in Malaysia.