Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

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. (Texas) 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. This is the Scenario: As a nurse practitioner, you prescribe medications for your patients. You make an error when prescribing medication to a 5-year-old patient. Rather than dosing him appropriately, you prescribe a dose suitable for an adult.Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs


In everyday clinical practice and the widening scope of practice, advanced practice nurses are bound to experience ethical and legal challenges. To avoid legal and ethical implications, an APN must be keen when assessing, diagnosing, prescribing, and evaluating patients. The most significant part to consider is when prescribing drugs. Medication errors are a major cause of adverse drug events that accounts for more than three million visits to physicians and one million ED visits annually (da Silva & Krishnamurthy, 2016). Medication errors occur at different levels such as prescribing, dispensing, admission, and during follow-up. This paper discusses the legal and ethical implications of prescribing drugs and the most effective strategies to address disclosure and non-disclosure as well as influence decision making.

Case Overview

The case study involves making an error as a nurse practitioner when prescribing medication to a 5-year-old patient. Rather than dosing the child appropriately, the nurse practitioner prescribed a dose that is suitable for an adult.

Ethical and Legal Implications


APNs prescribe drugs and educate patients about the side effects, and expected outcomes. Ethically, they are required to do no harm and make decisions that serve a patient’s best interests. Therefore, prescribing an adult dose to a five-year-old patient violates the ethical principles of non-maleficence and beneficence. An APN should re-evaluate a prescription before handing it over for dispensing as this helps to prevent common medication errors that can lead to adverse events (Mitchell & Oliphant, 2016). Similarly, a patient can file legal charges against a prescriber or result in a revoked license. Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs


Pharmacists have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that the prescription they fill has the right drug, dosage, and administration route. However, failing to check the dosage before filing a prescription is unethical. Legally, dispensing the wrong education dosage can cause one to lose the practice license authority (da Silva & Krishnamurthy, 2016).

Patient and Family

The primary purpose of seeking healthcare services is to maintain physical, social, and emotional functioning and to resume living normally. However, according to da Silva & Krishnamurthy (2016), a prescription error is likely to cause an adverse drug event and subsequently may result in poor outcomes. This implies that there would be additional management costs for the patient as well as the family. Legally, the patient or family might take legal action against the prescriber.

Addressing Disclosure, Non-Disclosure and Guide Decision-making

Based on my state’s Nursing Practice Art, all APNs must discuss with patients about the drugs in a prescription. This discussion entails educating patients about the appropriate drug, duration, dosing, route of administration, and timing. The Act further requires that all nurses should be honest and disclose any medication errors to relevant stakeholders before implementing measures to address it (Mitchell & Oliphant, 2016). The two most effective strategies that the author would use to guide decision-making are being aware of specific populations and maintaining updated demographic details. The former helps to ensure that a prescriber complies with the five medication rights while the second strategy is vital in routine practice to ensure that children receive the appropriate medication dosages based on the weight in kilograms after calculations.

Process of Writing Prescriptions

According to Arcangelo et al. (2017), prescribing medications usually follows six steps namely: Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

  • Evaluating and defining a patient’s issues
  • Determining the therapeutic objectives
  • Selecting the right drug therapy
  • Initiating therapy with the right details
  • Sharing information, warnings, and instructions
  • Regularly evaluating therapy


Arcangelo, V. P., Peterson, A. M., Wilbur, V. F., & Reinhold, J. A. (2017). Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: a practical approach. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer

da Silva, B. A., & Krishnamurthy, M. (2016). The alarming reality of medication error: a patient case and review of Pennsylvania and National data. Journal of community hospital internal medicine perspectives6(4), 31758.

Mitchell, A., & Oliphant, C. M. (2016). Responsibility for Ethical Prescribing. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners12(3), A20.

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs