Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

You will also evaluate and analyze ethical and legal implications and practices related to prescribing drugs.  As advanced practice nurses, almost every clinical decision you make will have ethical or legal implications. Your ethical and legal knowledge is fundamental to your ability to resolve the multitude of challenging issues encountered in practice.  For the Week 1 Assignment, you will explore the ethical and legal implications of the following scenario, and consider how to appropriately respond:


A friend calls and asks you to prescribe a medication for her. You have this autonomy, but you don’t have your friend’s medical history. You write the prescription anyway.

Write a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following: all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references.

1.      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.

2.      Describe strategies to address disclosure and nondisclosure as identified in the scenario you selected. Be sure to reference laws specific to your state.

3.      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.

4.      Explain the process of writing prescriptions, including strategies to minimize medication errors.

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.


Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescriptions


In healthcare, practitioners often find out that their friends, co-workers, or relatives may request informal medical advice. In addition, people close to the practitioners may ask for medical prescriptions without following medical procedures.  Practitioners realize that engagement in informal prescriptions increase their chances of having malpractice liability. In serious cases, they face legal investigations and risk going to jail or losing their job (Arcangelo et al., 2017). This paper tries to determine the ethical and legal implications that are associated with casual prescriptions. It involves a scenario where a female friend calls for medical prescription while the practitioner does not have her medical history. With that autonomy, the prescription is still written.

Ethical and Legal Implications

The scenario creates an ethical challenge to the practitioner. Due to their close association, the practitioner’s professional objectivity may be affected. The fact that the practitioner prescribes medicine for the client without her medical history shows that the doctor’s judgment is based on their relationship. Legally, if the state law requires the patient to be present during prescription, the process would be against the authority. In addition, the process would be inefficient due to lack of physical examinations (Kling, 2015).

From another perspective, if the state requires an association between the physician and nurse, an investigation may be enforced on the practitioner for engaging in the process alone. Moreover, if the prescription is done away from the facility setting, it will be illegal. It can also be viewed that if the patient’s condition deteriorates after prescription, there will be no documentation to reveal the drugs she had taken. This act would jeopardize further assistance. Also, there will be no evidence of the patient’s informed consent (Arcangelo et al., 2017).

Strategies for Disclosure and Nondisclosure

Disclosure of patient safety is an important aspect in any healthcare situation. From the scenario, the practitioner may choose to orally disclose the error to a colleague and the patient. This act would increase trust between the practitioner and co-workers. In addition, it would create a suitable patient-nurse relationship. Also, the practitioner may create a formal report to the facility, revealing the details of the error in a way to reduce such errors in future (Kling, 2015).

Strategies for Decision Making

When it comes to decision making, the practitioner may choose to reject the patient’s request. This act would be done in a polite way, with the practitioner giving an explanation of associated ethical concerns. This may be followed by the practitioner assigning the patient to a different qualified nurse to engage in the prescription. Contrarily, the practitioner may choose to engage in the prescription process. However, the process needs the nurse to have a professional relationship with the patient. The procedure should be done in a facility setting, with the practitioner making suitable medical assessments of the patient. It would need official documentation which would enhance a suitable follow-up (Bao et al., 2016).

Prescription Writing Process

Having a systematic approach in prescribing drugs is required to enhance prescription quality. The process should start with proper evaluation and definition of the patient’s problem. This step is followed by development of a therapeutic objective. A proper drug therapy is initiated. Thereafter, details, warnings, and instructions should be provided. To avoid errors, the practitioner may apply the five rights of drug prescription. They involve the needs for the right drug, right patient, right dosage, right process, and right time. Another strategy is to employ computer technology in designing the prescription (Ladd & Hoyt, 2016).


The paper shows that prescription of drugs to people close to a practitioner is associated with ethical and legal implications. These issues may make a nurse lose his or her job, especially if it is associated with errors. Nurses need to be careful when administering drugs to patients who are associated with them. The paper tries to reveal that with proper strategies, the process can be done properly, thereby limiting ethical and legal consequences. In addition, it is observed that drug prescription needs to follow a systematic approach to avoid errors.


Arcangelo, V. P., Peterson, A. M., Wilbur, V., & Reinhold, J. A. (Eds.). (2017). Pharmacotheraeutics for advanced practice: A practical approach (4thed.). Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Bao, Y., Pan, Y., Taylor,A., Radakrishnan, S., Luo, F., Pincus, H. A., &Schackman, B. (2016). Prescription drug monitoring programs are associated with sustained reductions in opioid prescribing by physicians. Health Affairs, 35(6), 1045 -1051.

Kling, S. (2015). Is it ethical to treat one’s family and friends?: ethics article. Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 28(2), 118-120.

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

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