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Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs


When a patient visits the healthcare system, there are high chances of prescribing medication. Some of the essential factors to consider before prescribing a drug to a patient are health history and physical examination of the patient (Rosenthal & Burchum, 2018). A nurse or physician should prescribe based on a patient’s diagnosis and know the quality that a patient should receive based on health history and physical examination. This essay discusses ethical and legal implications for all stakeholders, such as a patient, the patient’s family, a pharmacist, and a prescriber. The discussion concludes by describing the strategies I would use as an advanced practice nurse to guide decision-making in the chosen scenario.

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Some of the worst medical accidents that might end in a patient’s death are caused by drug administration errors. Through a reporting system, policies and regulatory frameworks exist to limit the occurrence of such incidents and other medical mistakes. The case scenario entails providing medicine to a 38-year-old African American in accordance with the criteria for elderly patients. Several individuals are frequently affected and implicated in the chain of the incorrect subscription, but the patient is the one who suffers the most.

Ethical and Legal Implications for All Involved Stakeholders

The prescriber is the primary link in the chain of events that leads to the prescription of medicine recommended according to an older patient’s standard of care. The prescribing inaccuracy starts with the prescriber. The mistake is unethical and illegal on both grounds. First, the prescriber is entirely aware that the patient has diabetes, high blood pressure, and dialysis. Prescribing medicines for an old patient in the standard manner puts him in danger of overdosing and at risk of a legal suit (American Geriatrics Society, 2019). The pharmacist is also responsible for compounding the mistake of the prescriber.

Pharmacists should be concerned about the patient who will be getting the medicines. Before prescribing medicines, it is critical to inquire about and confirm the patient’s demographic and health characteristics, such as age and diagnosis (“Drug Enforcement Administration,” n.d.). The patient and his family have acted following all ethical and legal principles. Patients have faith in doctors and take the prescriptions because they believe they are appropriate. They are not specialists in the field. As a result, the prescriber and pharmacists are both ethically and legally responsible for the incorrect prescription.

Strategies to Address Disclosure and Nondisclosure

Medical professionals are aware that medical mistakes may occur in this field. Medical institutions, states, and the federal government have created protocols and reporting and response channels to avoid medical mistakes. When the state of Ohio passed legislation HB 1614, it did not have a complicated disclosure system in place (“Quality and patient safety,” n.d.). Despite subtle parallels with other state legislation, the enactment is unique to Ohio’s requirements. The requirement that practitioners at mental institutions, hospitals, and ambulatory surgical clinics enter a thorough record of medical mistakes is a crucial component of the law.

The strategy’s advantages include its potential to enhance surveillance on practitioners who make frequent errors, as well as the severity of the errors, allowing legal action to be taken (Ladd & Hoyt, 2016). It might be used to identify and penalize practitioners who are guilty of extreme incompetence and other failures. The method might potentially uncover quack practitioners, under-trained practitioners, or quasi-practitioners who have entered the field without the necessary qualifications. The healthcare industry should stress the documentation of medical errors and the development of legislative frameworks to handle cases in court, and the seriousness with which medical errors are addressed.

Strategies for Decision Making and Disclose of Error

The values of integrity and honesty guide the approach to the issue. The two concepts prescribe how one should conduct professional ethics and standards of behavior. As a result, the two most essential techniques for dealing with the situation are to use of professional codes and professional ethics (Ladd & Hoyt, 2016).

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Ethics or morality, for example, is defined by ethical concepts such as Kantian deontology as action based on the rule of law, independent of the consequences to the actor and recipient of the work. In this circumstance, state law mandates that the situation be reported. Following the ethical norms, I would submit a report of the medical mistake. The code of conduct establishes how a doctor should interact with his or her patients. Responding to the scenario, for example, would include entering a report and fast-tracking the 38-year-old man to ensure the threat is managed according to the code of doing well under all circumstances.


It is reasonably unusual for nurse practitioners to make mistakes in the healthcare setting. While some of these errors have severe repercussions for the practitioners’ professional practice and the health of their patients, others may not be as damaging. Medication mistakes in adults can have a wide range of implications for the patient, the patient’s family, the hospital, and the practitioners, as this study has demonstrated. In the event of such failures, the most ethical thing to do is to admit the fault and strive to mitigate the consequences.

It is also critical to identify and eliminate the core causes of prescription mistakes so that they would not happen in the first place. Before prescribing medicines, the practitioner and pharmacist should examine the test results as well as the patient’s demographic and health characteristics. These components are analyzed to determine the amount and kind of medication given to the patient by the prescriber. Reexamining the prescription is also necessary to verify that it fulfills the patient’s needs. In instances where the practitioner lacks expertise or experience with the prescription, they should overlook mistakes. Consequently, medication errors caused by ego would be reduced.


American Geriatrics Society Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel. (2019). American Geriatrics Society 2019 updated AGS Beers criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(4), 674–694. Web.

Drug Enforcement Administration. Code of federal regulations. (n.d.). Web.

Ladd, E., & Hoyt, A. (2016). Shedding light on nurse practitioner prescribing. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(3), 166–173. Web.

Quality and patient safety. Public and private policy medical errors and patient safety. (n.d.). Web.

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Rosenthal, L. D., & Burchum, J. R. (2018). Lehne’s pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice providers. Elsevier.

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