Pharmacology: Prescription Errors
American writer Nikki Giovanni once said: Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the
error that counts (Goodreads, 2012). Whenever you make an error when writing a prescription,
you must consider the ethical and legal implications of your error no matter how seemingly
insignificant it might be. You may fear the possible consequences and feel pressured not to
disclose the error. Regardless, you need to consider the potential implications of non-disclosure.
How you respond to the prescription error will affect you, the patient, and the health care facility
where you practice. In this Assignment, you examine ethical and legal implications of disclosure

and nondisclosure of personal error.

Pharmacology: Prescription Errors

Errors of medication can have grave effects on patients. Prescribers and dispensers of
medicines require being keen to avoid making mistakes in their practice. In terms of
pharmacology, drugs are simply poisons if they are not used in a specific and appropriate
manner. However, mistakes prescription mistakes still occur even if prescribers and dispensers of


medicines are keen. When they occur, medication mistakes compromise patient safety. When
prescription errors happen, healthcare providers should act in an ethical manner and take the
appropriate actions. Patients may not realize when they take erroneous medications, and they
solely rely on health professionals for their well-being.
Accepting and disclosing prescription errors to either the patient or the authorities operates
within healthcare ethical principles. It could attract both understanding and misunderstanding if
prescribers reveal their mistakes. Healthcare providers should apply moral guidelines to address
errors that they make (Ghazel, Saleem, & Amlani, Pg. 2). Moral and ethical conduct demands
that practitioners seek to resolve the problem first and then disclose their errors Ghazel, Saleem,
& Amlani, Pg. 2). When practitioners commit medication errors, they find it hard to let their
victimized patients know. While it could be ethically right to let patients know that they have
taken wrong medication, disclosure could attract more trouble as patients may react in a hostile
manner to express their dissatisfactions. On the other hand, patients may react by developing
more trust in their care providers, if prescribers are honest with them (Ghazel, Saleem, &
Amlani, 2014, Pg. 1). Regardless of the feared patient reactions, prescribers owe patients
disclosure if mistakes occur. In the U.S, the bill of rights grants patient the right to know if they
receive erroneous care from healthcare practitioners (Ghazel, Saleeem, & Amlani, 2014, Pg 1). It
would be unethical if following fear of patients taking legal actions, prescribers protect
themselves by concealing their mistakes. Both non-maleficence and beneficence principles of
healthcare practice encourage disclosure of mistakes to patients (Ghazel, Saleem, & Amlani,
2014, Pg. 1). In addition to benefiting patients, disclosure of mistakes also benefits prescribers
and hospitals. For instance, healthcare institutions could consider using methods that would
minimize occurrence of medication errors, if practitioners report their errors (Ghazel, Saleem, &


Amlani, 2014, Pg. 1). Again, prescribers earn more trust from their patients, if they let the
patients know when errors occur.
Advanced practice nursing practitioners are guided by both federal and state laws. The
Nursing Practice Act is the central institution that governs nursing practice in America. The
Nursing Board guides nurses in interpreting acts that are not within Nursing Practice Act
(American Nurses Association (ANA), 2015). Several laws monitor drug use and address cases
of medication errors including those that occur during prescription. Advanced practice nurses
and other prescribers are guided by the established laws on matters concerning use of medicines.
In the U.S, FDA monitors medication errors through its Medication Errors Department. The
agency receives concerns regarding use of medicinal substances including conventional
medicines, healthcare devices, and medically-active biological compounds among other
substances (, 2015). Other institutions and guidelines involved in control of medicine use
in the States include National Institute of Health, the U.S Pharmacopoeia, and Federal Food,
Drug, and Cosmetic Act (, 2015).
In the scenario presented, I would disclose the prescription mistake I made to the patient.
Patients have a right to know if medication errors occur. Advanced care nurses and other
healthcare practitioners have the obligation to disclose prescription errors to patients from both
legal and moral perspectives. Letting patients know about medication errors promotes their
safety, and builds trust between clinicians and the patients. In addition to disclosing the mistake
to the patient and the hospital management, I would also take corrective approaches to ensure
that the patient is not harmed.

Writing Prescriptions


To avoid making mistakes, prescribers should apply strategies that are designed purposely
to minimize chances of errors. To apply the appropriate strategies, prescribers should first obtain
as much important patient information as possible. They should explore on patient factors that
could compromise the normal functioning of the drugs. Understanding the physiological
conditions of patients could, for instance, allow prescribers to determine possible adverse
reactions. As such, prescribers would withdraw drugs that would not match the physiological
status of the patients, and replace them with better alternatives. Performing a thorough and
appropriate diagnosis also helps in minimizing prescription errors. With proper diagnoses,
prescribers would not only determine the best medication, but they would also determine the
most appropriate dosage and frequency. In diagnoses, prescribers should also assess patients for
factors that could interfere with drug pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Activities such
as smoking and alcoholism are known to interfere with medications, and prescribers should
promote patient safety by assessing them before making prescriptions. In addition, prescribers
need having adequate drug information before prescribing them to patients. Legible handwriting
for prescribers could also help in minimizing medication errors, especially at the level of
dispensing. Prescribers also minimize prescription errors by keeping reliable drug references.
Paying attention to guidelines would also help reduce the occurrence of prescription errors.
Usually, some medicines have special properties which could be important for both drug
prescribers and dispensers to understand (Pharmacy Board of Australia, 2015, pg. 2).


Ghazal, L., Saleem, Z., Amlani, G. (2014) A Medical Error: To Disclose or Not to Disclose. J
Clin Res Bioeth, 5(174), 1-3. doi:10.4172/2155-9627.1000174 (2015). Medication Error Law. Retrieved from
Pharmacy Board of Australia (2015, April 28). Guidelines for dispensing of medicines.


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