Drug Prescription as a Routine Practice – Medical Ethics Example

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"Drug Prescription as a Routine Practice" is a wonderful example of a paper on medical ethics. Drug prescription is a routine practice by doctors following a disease condition. After a diagnosis with a particular condition, an appropriate medical professional assigns the patient particular drugs using the generic name for easier dispensation by the pharmacist. The doses administered are according to body weight, age, and the physiologic state of an individual. While some drugs such as the OTC are self-prescribed, physicians prescribe most of the prescription drugs administered by their assistants to the patients.

The essay focuses on a case study involving the dispensation of prescription drugs by LPN and medical assistant.                       Jerry is a trained medical assistant and an LPN who works for Dr. Williams as an office assistant. Given his area of practice, he is not supposed to order a medical refill order that the client urgently requires. In health care professionalism, individuals must keep to their line of duty (Pellegrino, Thomasma & Kissell, 2000). The duty of a medical assistant and an LPN is to provide basic medical support such as answering calls, filing and updating clinical records, making an appointment for patients, assisting in basic clinical procedures and patient guidance on medication.

However, authorization of prescription refills, preparation, and administration of medications remains under the directions from a physician. Jerry, as a medical assistant, must never undertake tasks beyond his duty such as ordering refill without consulting with Dr. Williams to prevent possible harm to the patient (Heller & Veach, 2008)                       It would not make any difference with any prescription medicine such as the one used in the daily management of high blood pressure.

It is the sole responsibility of a doctor or a physician to prescribe a drug in the required dosage. The medical assistant only works under the direction of the doctor.                       If Jerry calls in and the patient experiences an adverse drug reaction of Valium while flying, he is not under cover of a lawsuit under the doctrine of respondent superior. One major role Jerry as a medical assistant is instructing patients of medication and special diets. In this respect, he has the responsibility to inform the client of the possible adverse effects of the drugs.

If these adverse reactions occur without the patient’ s prior information, the facility stands a charge under the medical malpractice and Respondent superior law. The universal law that holds the employer accountable for the mistakes of the employee was developed in England. It provides a platform for the recovery of damages incurred by the client to the employer to which the employee is affiliated. It assumes that the employee implements the employer's orders (Fremgen, 2009).   If the adverse reactions occur to the client because of negligence in medication or due to assuming roles, not within his training, the facility is liable for incompetence.                       The advice to Jerry would be to stick to his line of duty and professional obligations and consult with the superiors in decisions that are not within his line of duty.

He is to provide medical advice to patients and administer drugs with the consent of Dr. Williams. Working within the margins of offering medical assistance is crucial in preventing injury to the client and prevent possible revocation of certification or registration status as medical assistance.

All the employees in any set of the organization including medical facilities must understand the limits regarding their line of duty (Fremgen, 2009). The final decision on medication procedures lies with the doctors. Jerry should, therefore, consult with Dr. Williams to authenticate the information and seek further advice from the doctor.                       Jerry’ s decision should rely on the desired legal and ethical issues. In all the decisions that a practitioner makes, it is advisable that it is in line with the legal and ethical obligations in the medical field.

While the medical assistant has an obligation to attend to clients, he must consider medical ethics. Virtue-based ethics such as good habits, honesty, and fairness, integrity, respect, empathy, and truthfulness are important in cross-examining the client. When communicating with the patient, Jerry must be open to the client and his limits of duty and let the client know that he cannot make independent medication without information from the doctor.   Unethical or wrong actions cause physical or emotional damage both to the client and the medical assistant.

The wrong action makes one guilty and violates the client’ s rights. The other ethical behavior in health care relies on the stipulated benefit that must outweigh the risks involved (Hope, Savulescu & Hendrick, 2008). It is, therefore, a legal requirement for the assistant to explain the adverse effects of the drugs to the patient such that he makes a decision on whether to use the medication or not. Legal obligations require the client to make a well-informed choice following the information given by the medical assistant.                       There are various methods of problem-solving to provide a solution to a problem.

The methods involved evaluate whether or not a medical decision is ethical and legal or not. The three-step ethical approach weighs the legality of a procedure, assessing the risks and benefits involved and the impact in the feeling of the individual. The individual must analyze the impact on overwriting the professional limitations and effects on the patient’ s health. Secondly is the seven-step decision-making model that involves seven key steps in solving a medical dilemma. The medical assistant must determine the facts by inquiring about the necessary information, the parties involve, the ethical implications involved and the time of action.

With the facts at hand, the medic identifies the precise ethical concern involving the case. He must then know the major rules, principles, and values involved in the decision making such as integrity, respect quality, and profit. He must outline the alternatives available comparing the alternatives and values surrounding the problem. Finally, he must assess the consequences both in the short and long term, positive and negative before ultimately deciding on the solution.

Finally is the three steps Dr. Bernard Lo’ s Clinical model entails gathering information, clarifying the related ethical concerns and resolving the dilemma. (Fremgen, 2009).                       In summary, physicians employ medical assistants to help with basic procedures in healthcare and investigations. The medical assistants can also provide technical assistance under supervision by the physician. These include history taking, administering drugs and advice on medication. However, prescription and major decisions remain to be the role of the doctor. In cases of emergency, the assistant must evaluate the risks involved and the benefits before making an independent decision.

The medical assistance, however, should be aware of the implications of independent decisions about medical law on malpractice and respondent superior law. The mistakes made may cost the assistant the practice license, spoil the clinic's reputation and may attract costly fines in lawsuits.


Fremgen, B. F. (2009). Medical law and ethics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Print.

Heller, M. E., & Veach, L. M. (2009). Clinical medical assisting: A professional, field smart approach to the workplace. Clifton Park: Delmar Cengage Learning. Print.

Hope, R. A., Savulescu, J., & Hendrick, J. (2008). Medical ethics and law: The core curriculum. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. Print.

Pellegrino, E. D., Thomasma, D. C., & Kissell, J. L. (2000). The health care professional as friend and healer: Building on the work of Edmund D. Pellegrino. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press. Print.

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