Although it is undeniable that medical errors occur in a hospital setting, professionals and institutions should direct their efforts towards ensuring that the number of mistakes is minimized and the patients are informed regarding these issues. While prescribing medication, it is crucial to pay attention to each step and gather adequate information. This paper aims to analyze legal and ethical approaches to medical errors and offers strategy for reducing these occurrences while prescribing medication.
Ethical and Legal Implications
From a moral perspective, non-disclosure violates the professional code of ethics for nurses, because it results in harmful outcomes for patients. While many may be discouraged or scared to admit an error due to a fear of legal prosecution, it is a vital component of ensuring that medical practices are altered, and these issues do not happen again. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides an insight into the actual statistics that can help understand the attitudes towards full disclosure and non-disclosure.
According to their physician’s survey, “56 %would mention the adverse event but not the error (partial disclosure); 42% would make an explicit statement that an error occurred (full disclosure); 3% would make no reference to the adverse event or error (no disclosure)” (“Disclosure of errors,” n.d.). Thus, although moral standards dictate a need to communicate issues in question, a large number of medical professionals prefer to avoid the action.
From a legal perspective, the primary concern is ensuring that the patient can file a lawsuit and receive a valid compensation for a medical error. In New Hampshire, “claims for medical injury should be resolved as early and inexpensively as possible to contain system costs” (“Title LIII,” n.d., para. 1). A panel of professionals is formed to review the screening procedures results and determine the scope of harm for the patient.
On a federal level, the National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) Act was created to regulate the problem. According to this law, healthcare facilities are obliged to provide patients with information regarding an error and offer a reasonable compensation for it (“National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act, 2005). Other components of the initiative are directed at ensuring that medical mistakes are prevented and that prior solutions, such as apology statements from medical personnel or provider, are not used in court cases.
While the issue of medical errors is not prevalent in the US, the international community widely recognizes the problem. ISMP National Medication Errors Reporting Program (ISMP MERP) was created to provide medical professionals with a resource for sharing cases of medical errors, both actual and potential. This initiative, as well as an approach aimed at recognizing problems and ensuring they do not occur in the future, can help medical professionals combat the issue in question.
As an advanced practice nurse in a community health clinic, I would want to address the prescription error. The first step would be to discuss the issue with the administration because the establishment would be affected by the actions. Then, it is crucial to determine whether any harm was done to the patient. Additionally, although the error was not intentional, it is essential to identify causes and address them to prevent the mistake from occurring again. Due to the fact that full disclosure practice’s objective is to minimize the number of errors, I would want to address the issue with a patient and apologize for the mistake.
The process of Prescribing Drugs
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices provides several tools that can be used by professionals in their practice to help reduce the number of prescription errors. It is helpful because of Arcangelo, Peterson, Wilbur, and Reinhold (2017) state that the majority of adverse occurrences are preventable.
In particular, the institute created a list of medications with similar names that are easy to confuse, drugs that should not be crushed prior to consumption due to their specific formula, and a list of medication names with an emphasize on the parts of the title that can be miswritten (“Recommendations,” n.d.). Including this list in the educational process can help train future nurses.
The process of prescribing drugs begins with a risk-benefit analysis, which is the primary approach to determining whether a particular pharmacotherapy should be applied. additionally, Arcangelo et al. (2017) state that prescribers should be guided by federal laws, state legislation, and local licensing bodies in regards to drug prescription. The authors emphasize the importance of gathering data before medicine and educating patients regarding the chosen approach. Sabatino et al. (2017) conducted educational research and provided guidelines that can be used by nurse practitioners to improve prescribing and perception skills. The results indicate that additional training should be integrated into the practice of nurses to ensure that the number of prescription errors is minimized.
Overall, according to the existing ethical standards, medical personnel has to report their errors to ensure that no farther damage to patient’s health is in place. Both federal and New Hampshire state laws imply that medical mistakes should be disclosed and reported. Additionally, patients are given an opportunity to peruse a lawsuit in regards to such cases. The strategy to minimize adverse occurrences should be based on personal education of practitioners with the application of tools provided by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
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.
Disclosure of errors. (2018). Web.
National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act. (2005). Web.
Recommendations. (2018). Web.
Sabatino, J., Pruchnicki, M., Sevin, A., Barker, E., Green, C., & Porter, K. (2017). Improving prescribing practices. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 29(5), 248-254. Web.
Title LIII. (2014). Web.