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The Ethic and Legalities of Medication Errors Disclosure
Walden University
Week 2 Assignment
The Ethics and Legalities of Medication Error Disclosure
As healthcare practitioners, medication errors is something they take very seriously
and most practitioners try to go over and beyond to make sure they do not endanger their
patients. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), they published an article titled “To
Err is Human,” this report was released in 1999 and reported that medication error was
responsible for 1 out of 131 outpatient and 1 out of 854 inpatient fatalities (Wittich, Burkle,
& Lanier, 2014). Medication errors are one error which can happen at any time starting from
when the prescriber prescribes the medication to the point of administration (Wittich, Burkle,
& Lanier, 2014). Efficient communication with pharmacist becomes vital to avoid exposing
patients to the dangers of medication errors. It is paramount for healthcare practitioners to
understand the medications they are prescribing and the side effects.
The scenario for this paper deals with one which the ANP inadvertently prescribes the
wrong medication to a patient. The ethical and legal implications of disclosing and not
disclosing the medication error will be discussed. In healthcare transparency and honesty is
encouraged and that includes reporting incidents such as medication errors, and healthcare
practitioners understand that there could be consequences attached to reporting medication
errors. Most practitioners avoid reporting events such as medication errors especially if the
patient experiences no adverse effects or harm one to the patient. No practitioner want their
license revoked, wants to be sued or loss of reputation so this becomes the reason most
practitioner won’t disclose medication errors (White, 2011). There are ethical concerns with
regards to medication errors veracity and nonmaleficence. The act of telling the truth
regardless of the consequences and put the patients’ wellbeing first which in return provides
the foundation for patient trust is honesty.
Disclose Medication Error
No practitioner wants to be in the midst of a medication error case because it can be
embarrassing and there could be severe legal implications. As the ANP in this scenario, the
best practice would be to report the medication error to management. Reporting an incident
would help other practitioners learn from the event. A root cause analysis is usually
conducted when incidence like this occur to help prevent subsequent occurrence (Spath,
2013). The next thing would be to offer an apology to the patient involved because being
open and truthful could reduce the severity of the consequences to be faced but the perception
of a cover-up could worsen the situation, and the legal implication could be severe.
Process of Writing Prescriptions
A prescription is a legal document which relays information from a practitioner to a
pharmacist, and it contains information directing the patient on how to administer their
medication ( Arcangelo, Peterson, Wilbur, & Reinhold, 2017). A prescriber should make sure
the patient is not allergic to the medication to be prescribed. A prescription should always be
legible the parts of the prescription form should be filled out completely, including the
number of refills if any. The prescription should contain the drug name, and best practice is to
include the generic name and brand name to avoid errors. The dose of the drug should be
written in numerals, and if the dose is a fraction it should be written in decimal, the exact
metric should be used, the route and frequency should be available on the prescription form
(Arcangelo, Peterson, Wilbur, & Reinhold, 2017). A prescription form should also contain
the patients’ information written correctly this includes the patients’ name, date of birth and
current address. The practitioner’s name should be information such as name, address, and
contact number should be on the prescription. The prescriber needs to be aware of other
medications the patient is currently taking to avoid drug to drug interaction.
Most ANPs work in fast-paced environments, and it will take a great deal of
concentration and attention to details to avoid a situation like medication errors. Research has
also shown that medication error can be prevented, but it will require a great deal of attention
on the part of the prescriber to prevent it (White, 2001).
Arcangelo, V. P.,@ Peterson, A. M., Wilbur, V., & Reinhold, J. A.@ (Eds.). (2017).
Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: A practical approach (4th ed.). Ambler, PA:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Spath, P. (2013).@Introduction to healthcare quality management@(2nd
ed). Chicago,
IL: Health Administration Press
White, C. S. (2011). Advanced practice prescribing: Issues and strategies in preventing
medication error.@Journal of Nursing Law,@14(3), 120-127.
Wittich, C., Burkle, C., & Lanier, W. (2014). Medication errors: An overview for
clinicians. Mayo Clinic, 89(8), 1116-1125.
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