Ethical and Legal Implications for Writing Prescriptions


When prescribing drugs, nurses must be aware of the ethical and legal situation and exercise caution. These errors are frequently significant and harmful. To offer safer, higher-quality treatment, consistent and coordinated efforts are required to decrease the frequency and severity of health mistakes and interruptions (Schepis et al., 2019). When system changes correspond with error patterns, the more factual mistakes and violations are reported, the more trustworthy an organization or health care system may be from a safety standpoint.

Ethical and Legal Implications for Writing Prescriptions

The proper use of medication is essential for achieving beneficial patient outcomes. Unsafe drug usage might injure the patient and result in unwarranted legal penalties. Nurses must always prescribe drugs in conformity with legal and ethical guidelines (Bartells & LeRoy, 2020). The nurse is required to inform both the institution and the patient’s relatives of the blunder (Russell, 2018). The nurse must give a benefit in the provision of medical treatment that has been harmed by the error. They must be loyal to their patients in order to implement the concept of loyalty (Schepis et al., 2019). As a result, refusing to accept the remedy’s wrong is a breach of the loyalty principle. A mistake, on the other hand, should be notified through authorized means, which is a manifestation of professional behavior from a legal standpoint.

If prescribers hide errors and faults, they do not always stay hidden, and they frequently result in a breach of health organizations’ missions. Institutions have an ethical duty to confess clinical mistakes in order to fulfill their purpose (Bartells & LeRoy, 2020). Before administering the medicine to the patient’s family, the pharmacist had a legal and ethical responsibility to notify them of the best possible usage of the drug and any potential negative effects (Dahan et al., 2017). Adverse medication responses and drug cessation are needed to be reported by the patient’s family. They can even file a lawsuit against the nurse and the healthcare provider for negligence.

The nurse should communicate the situation to the doctor so that the best remedy may be found. To promote consultation, state law requires the nurse practitioner to work with the physician through a collaboration agreement (Bartells & LeRoy, 2020). Another option is to rely on the nursing code of ethics, which may need the application of state-level apology laws. This statute allows a nurse to seek mercy for misbehavior while also ensuring that a confession cannot be used against him in court (Schepis et al., 2019). As a result, the nurse may readily express regret for her acts and request pardon without fear of facing legal consequences.

The first strategy entails relying on government-mandated laws and regulations to make decisions. Cooperation with the doctor can help to determine the best treatment option for the patient and perhaps obtain a valid prescription for this medication. Second, it is critical to inform coworkers about their conduct and the potential implications. Even if the nurse intended to do so in good faith, she is nonetheless subject to the laws.

Before beginning the prescription procedure, the nurse must evaluate and diagnose the patient in order to determine the patient’s true medical condition and, as a result, prescribe the appropriate drug. When submitting a written prescription, the nurse must include crucial information such as the patient’s name, date, address, and date of birth to avoid mistakes (Barton et al., 2019). Personal information such as name, address, and phone numbers must also be included by the assigning nurse (Barton et al., 2019). Furthermore, the name of the pharmaceutical product, as well as relevant information such as dose, should be clearly specified.


Nurses must always follow legal and ethical requirements while prescribing medications. In order to execute the principle of commitment, they must also be loyal to their patients. The nurse must examine and diagnose the patient to ascertain the patient’s genuine medical condition and, as a consequence, prescribe the proper medicament. The wrong prescribed or illegally prescribed medicine can result in serious legal implications for both the prescriber and the nurse.


Barton, A., Fabry, P., & Ethier, J. F. (2019). A classification of instructions in drug prescriptions and pharmacist documents. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO 2019) (pp. 1-7).

Bartells, D. M., & LeRoy, B. (2020). Prescribing our future: ethical challenges in genetic counseling. Routledge.

Dahan, S., Ducard, D., & Caeymaex, L. (2017). Apology in cases of medical error disclosure: Thoughts based on a preliminary study. PloS one, 12(7)., 51-66. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181854

Schepis, T. S., Wilens, T. E., & McCabe, S. E. (2019). Prescription drug misuse: sources of controlled medications in adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 58(7), 670-680. doi: 1016/j.jaac.2018.09.438

Russell, D. (2018). Disclosure and apology: Nursing and risk management working together. Nursing Management, 49(6), 17-19. doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000533773.14544.e2

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