Ethics Case Study
Everyday health care workers around the world are faced with tough decisions. The law guides many decisions but some decisions require ethical considerations. Making good ethical decisions is not always as easy as it seems. Making ethical decisions is even harder when the primary intention is to be helpful, but it is beyond an employee’s qualifications.
Jerry’s Qualifications versus Necessary Qualifications
Qualification as a medical assistant and a licensed practical nurse (LPN) does not qualify Jerry to fill, or even refill, any prescription. Only pharmacists, doctors, and other certified professionals can order medications. Jerry working as medical ...view middle of the document...
If a patient called with an emergency situation, such as running out of blood pressure medication that he or she requires daily, the best thing for Jerry to do would be to contact Dr. Williams as soon as possible to help the patient. Refilling the prescription in a situation like this would still be incorrect. If the patient were in a life-threatening situation Jerry should instruct him or her to go directly to the closest emergency room for treatment.
The doctrine of respondent superior, or doctrine of respondeat superior, means that an employer is responsible for careless actions or errors of his or her employees while employees are doing their jobs (Cornell University Law School, 1993). The doctrine of respondent superior would protect Jerry only if Dr. Williams controlled Jerry’s actions and made him refill the prescription for Valium. Therefore, the doctrine of respondent superior would not protect Jerry. Jerry would be held accountable for any adverse reaction the patient might have.
Jerry should always adhere to protocol. Jerry must understand that it is very important to never go beyond the boundaries of his qualifications No matter how persistent a patient might be, Jerry must talk to Dr. Williams before making any decisions, especially decisions he is not qualified to make. When a patient asks Jerry to do something he knows he is not qualified to do, he must explain to the patient why he cannot fulfill his or her requests. If Jerry is unsure if he can refill the prescription he should ask his superior before taking action.
Many companies have policies in place to notify patients of necessary timeframes to process a prescription refill. This way, patients understand that they must call enough in advance to request a refill so that they will receive it by the time it is needed. Jerry should learn the policy at his workplace and inform the patient of the company policies.
Law and Ethics
Many legal and ethical issues that can affect the decision Jerry makes about ordering the prescription refill. If Jerry knows that he cannot refill the prescription it may discourage him from doing so. Jerry should know that if he refills the prescription he could loose his job and face legal consequences. Jerry could go to jail and pay numerous fines if he is charged with falsifying refills. The knowledge of right and wrong might deter Jerry from deciding to refill the prescription. Society expects all health care professionals to uphold a certain moral or ethical code of conduct....