Ethics Case Study
May 14, 2012
“Jerry McCall is Dr. Williams’s office assistant. He has received professional training as both a medical assistant and a LPN. He is handling all the phone calls while the receptionist is at lunch. A patient calls and says he must have a prescription refill for Valium, an antidepressant medication, called in right away to his pharmacy, since he is leaving for the airport in thirty minutes. He says that Dr. Williams is a personal friend and always gives him a small supply of Valium when he has to fly. No one except Jerry is in the office at this time”. Rannazzisi (2010), "Prescription may be prepared by the secretary or agent for the signature of a practitioner, but the prescribing practitioner is responsible in case the prescription does not conform in all essential respects to the law and regulations” (Federal Register Volume 75, Number 193 ).
My advice to Jerry would be to tell the patient that he is sorry but under penalty of the law he cannot authorize the refill of the valium without the physician’s permission. The major ethical and legal issues that may affect Jerry’s decision is that it is illegal for a LPN to prescribe any medication, and this could be considered practicing medicine and Jerry does not have a medical license all though he may have the training. He could be sued by the medial board for malpractice and lose his LPN license. He could also be putting the physician at risk for a lawsuit under the respondeat superior doctrine. While Jerry may feel empathy for the patient’s situation the legal issues far outweigh the feelings of empathy he may have. The nurse’s code of ethics states that a nurse must practice within the scope of practice as described by the State Board of Nursing in which he or she practices. Jerry should know the scope of practice of an LPN and medical assistant and should review the code of ethics set forth by the American Nurses Association and review these...
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