Errors in healthcare often lead to a variety of negative outcomes which can even result in a patient’s death. It is necessary to note that around 30% of all administration errors are medication errors and nurse practitioners participate in the process of medication prescription (Anderson & Townsend, 2010, p. 23). Therefore, nurses have to be particularly attentive when prescribing drugs as there are a variety of ethical and legal implications of disclosure (communicating errors to patients and other healthcare professionals) and nondisclosure (withholding information on errors). The present paper will highlight some of these issues as well as some peculiarities of the process of prescriptions writing.
Legal and Ethical Issues of Nondisclosure and Disclosure
When it comes to legal issues, nurses have to act in correspondence with a number of regulations. For instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Act addresses numerous situations and nurses should complete their tasks in accordance with the act (Philipsen & Soeken, 2011, p. 740). Besides, nurse practitioners have to make sure decisions they make comply with the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses. Thus, nondisclosure may lead to serious health issues for the patient and legal outcomes for the nurse.
Anderson and Townsend (2010, p. 25) mention some cases of nurses who were barred from practice and their patients died or developed severe health condition. These are common results of nondisclosure. Texas has particular reporting requirements and health care professionals are to disclose any information on possible errors in accordance with § 133.48 Texas Administrative Code (Texas Patient Safety Program, 2014, n.p.). Admittedly, nurses have to make their own decision but it should be ethical. It is noteworthy that healthcare professionals are working on development of numerous regulations aimed at reducing negative outcomes of disclosure.
My Actions as the Advanced Practice Nurse
Any advanced practice nurse has to act responsibly and should always disclose errors he/she has made. In the scenario provided, the fact that it was the nurse’s error can remain unveiled, but it can have negative outcomes for the patient’s health conditions. Of course, disclosure can lead to certain outcomes (administrative issues, relationships with colleagues and management of the hospital) (Crigger & Holcomb, 2008, p. 122).
At the same time, it can help develop particular strategies to prevent similar mistakes in the healthcare unit. As the advanced practice nurse, I would disclose the information on the error to the patient and I would do it in the most effective way (apologizing, providing certain information on medication and so on). I would also become more attentive and employ certain measures to avoid mistakes in the future.
The Process of Writing Prescriptions
The process of prescriptions writing is complex and includes several elements. Arcangelo & Peterson (2013, p. 10) state that the process involves assessment of history and test findings, diagnosis, selection of the best agent, evaluation of the response of the patient. Notably, it is possible to minimise errors during the process. First, it is essential to be aware of error-prone abbreviations and symbols to eliminate possible error in this sphere (Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 2012, p. 1). Anderson and Townsend (2010, p. 26) note that nurses can ask colleagues to double-check medications as well as pay special attention to patients’ education. These three strategies can help reduce errors.
On balance, it is necessary to note that nurses can make errors due to numerous reasons but it is also possible to eliminate these errors. Disclosure is very important as it helps improve the quality of services provided and avoid numerous errors. Clearly, each nurse practitioner has to act in accordance with certain regulations which help avoid making mistakes. Finally, nurses have to act ethically and remember that their errors can have serious negative outcomes.
Arcangelo, V.P., & Peterson, A. M. (2013). Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: A practical approach. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Anderson, P., & Townsend, T. (2010). Medication errors: Don’t let them happen to you. American Nurse Today, 5(3), 23–28. Web.
Crigger, N., & Holcomb, L. (2008). Improving nurse practitioner practice through rational prescribing. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 4(2), 120–125.
Institute for Safe Medication Practices. (2012). ISMP’s list of error-prone abbreviations, symbols, and dose designations. Web.
Philipsen, N.C., & Soeken, D. (2011). Preparing to blow the whistle: A survival guide for nurses. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 7(9), 740–746.
Texas patient safety program – hospitals. (2014). Web.