Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Essay

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Essay

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Essay

The case scenario concerns TF, an 18-month-old boy admitted for failure to thrive and weight loss of 6 lbs. The NP finds that the boy has severe blockage and impaction throughout his GI system. His parents state that they do not want treatment due to religious beliefs. They mention that the child’s grandfather, a church elder, is coming to pray over the boy and heal him. The purpose of this paper is to explore the scenario’s ethical and legal implications and strategies to deal with disclosure and nondisclosure.

Ethical and Legal Implications of the Scenario

The ethical implications of the above scenario fall under the ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. The NP has a moral duty to promote better health outcomes in the patient and cause no harm. Thus, failing to take the necessary medical action would be failing to uphold the two principles since it would worsen the child’s medical condition resulting in complications (Varkey, 2021). However, the NP has an ethical duty to uphold the right of autonomy by respecting the parents’ decisions about the child’s treatment. Failing to uphold autonomy can result in legal implications, especially if the NP takes medical actions without the parents’ consent. The parents also face the ethical implications of beneficence and nonmaleficence for failing to consent to medical interventions that would improve the child’s health (Varkey, 2021). If the child’s condition deteriorates, the parents will face legal repercussions for refusing treatment interventions for the child.

Strategies to Address Disclosure and Nondisclosure

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Disclosure involves communicating with patients, families, and caregivers about an incident that may result in an adverse event. Disclosure is a crucial step in exhibiting effective, open, and transparent communication with patients after an adverse event. California Senate Bill 1448 requires physicians to notify their patients of inappropriate prescriptions that may cause harm to a patient (California Senate, n.d.). Thus, if the NP implemented a medical intervention that risked the child’s health, they are obligated by the law to disclose the event to the parents.

The strategies that I would utilize as an NP in disclosing an error include applying ethical principles and state laws. Thus, I would apply the ethical principle of nonmaleficence by informing the patient’s parents so that the necessary medical interventions can be implemented (de Araújo et al., 2019). In addition, I would look into the state’s laws on disclosure and act as per what the law states on disclosing errors to patients. I would disclose a medical error to the patient by explaining to them how the error occurred, potential adverse effects, and interventions that will be taken to mitigate the effects. Disclosing is vital to maintaining a healthy patient-provider relationship and promoting trust.


Process of Writing Prescriptions

When writing a prescription, the prescriber should include the patient’s name, age, sex, diagnosis, prescriber’s address, and prescription date. In addition, the prescriber should include the drug’s name, dose, frequency, and refills. Medication errors can be minimized by adopting technology like the Bar-coded medication administration (BCMA) system, which ensures providers uphold the five rights of medication administration (Strudwick et al., 2018). Hospitals can also adopt E-prescribing software, which avoids writing errors by generating electronic prescriptions and sending them directly to the pharmacy.


The NP faces ethical implications surrounding beneficence and nonmaleficence if they fail to take the necessary medical interventions to alleviate the child’s pain and improve the patient’s conditions. When providers face a dilemma between disclosing and nondisclosure of a medical error, they should always choose to disclose and adhere to state laws on disclosure. BCMA and E-prescribing software can be used to reduce medication errors.


California Senate. (n.d.). Sb 1448. Open States: discover politics in your state.

de Araújo, B. C., de Melo, R. C., de Bortoli, M. C., Bonfim, J. R. D. A., & Toma, T. S. (2019). How to prevent or reduce prescribing errors: an evidence brief for policy. Frontiers in pharmacology10, 439.

Strudwick, G., Reisdorfer, E., Warnock, C., Kalia, K., Sulkers, H., Clark, C., & Booth, R. (2018). Factors associated with barcode medication administration technology that contribute to patient safety: an integrative review. Journal of nursing care quality33(1), 79-85.

Varkey, B. (2021). Principles of clinical ethics and their application to practice. Medical Principles and Practice30(1), 17-28.


Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs
What type of drug should you prescribe based on your patient’s diagnosis? How much of the drug should the patient receive? How often should the drug be administered? When should the drug not be prescribed? Are there individual patient factors that could create complications when taking the drug? Should you be prescribing drugs to this patient? How might different state regulations affect the prescribing of this drug to this patient?
These are some of the questions you might consider when selecting a treatment plan for a patient.
As an advanced practice nurse prescribing drugs, you are held accountable for people’s lives every day. Patients and their families will often place trust in you because of your position. With this trust comes power and responsibility, as well as an ethical and legal obligation to “do no harm.” It is important that you are aware of current professional, legal, and ethical standards for advanced practice nurses with prescriptive authority. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the treatment plans and administration/prescribing of drugs is in accordance with the regulations of the state in which you practice. Understanding how these regulations may affect the prescribing of certain drugs in different states may have a significant impact on your patient’s treatment plan. In this Assignment, you explore ethical and legal implications of scenarios and consider how to appropriately respond.

To Prepare
• Review the Resources for this module and consider the legal and ethical implications of prescribing prescription drugs, disclosure, and nondisclosure.
• Review the scenario assigned by your Instructor for this Assignment.
• Search specific laws and standards for prescribing prescription drugs and for addressing medication errors for your state or region, and reflect on these as you review the scenario assigned by your Instructor.
• Consider the ethical and legal implications of the scenario for all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family.
• Think about two strategies that you, as an advanced practice nurse, would use to guide your ethically and legally responsible decision-making in this scenario, including whether you would disclose any medication errors.

By Day 7 of Week 1
Write a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following:
• Explain the ethical and legal implications of the scenario you selected on all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family.
• Describe strategies to address disclosure and nondisclosure as identified in the scenario you selected. Be sure to reference laws specific to your state.
• Explain two strategies that you, as an advanced practice nurse, would use to guide your decision making in this scenario, including whether you would disclose your error. Be sure to justify your explanation.
• Explain the process of writing prescriptions, including strategies to minimize medication errors.

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