Ethics Case Study
University of Phoenix
Ethics: Health Care and Social Responsibility
Deborah Laughon RN BSN MS DBA
January 23, 2012
Ethics Case Study
Jerry McCall is Dr. William’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 mediation, 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. ...view middle of the document...
net website, 2012). Another law that is consistent in every state is one that prohibits medical assistants from independently prescribing or refilling medications (medicalassistant.net website, 2012). Licensed Practical Nurses have a broader scope of practice than medical assistants do, but prescribing or refilling medications is not included. In this case study, only Dr. Williams is able to refill the medication. If Jerry decides to call in a refill he will be practicing outside of his professional scope and breaking state law.
Would type of medication make a difference?
Regardless of what type of medication the patient is asking for, Jerry is still limited by his LPN and medical assistant scope of practice. He cannot legally call in a refill for a medication without Dr. Williams prescribing the medication. Factors that may influence Jerry’s decision to refill this medication include that the patient states he is a personal friend of Dr. Williams and that Dr. Williams has done this for him in the past. Jerry may be tempted to try and help this patient, but the best thing he can do from a legal and professional perspective is to have the patient speak directly to Dr. Williams. Scope of practice is in place to protect the patient. Because Jerry does not have the same training that Dr. Williams does, he could make dosage or medication name errors that could result in lethal harm to the patient.
Doctrine of Respondent Superior
According to Cornell University Law School (2010) respondent superior is a legal doctrine that holds an employer or principal legally responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent, if such acts occur within the scope of the employment or agency. By this doctrine, Dr. Williams would be held responsible if Jerry calls in a refill and the patient has an adverse reaction. Jerry would also be held accountable by the State Board of Nursing for practicing outside his scope and may loose his licensing privileges.
Advice for Jerry
Jerry has an ethical and a legal decision to make in this case study. A patient that claims to be a personal friend of Dr. Williams is asking Jerry to call a refill in for Valium right away because of a pending flight. Jerry may feel pressure to call this refill in. Concern for ourselves and for others lies at the heart of health care ethics (Garrett, Baillie, & Garrett, 2009). Garrett, Baillie, and...