Ethicsand Legalities of Medication Error Disclosure
Ethicsand Legalities of Medication Error Disclosure
Inmany cases, patients are harmed by various therapeutic misadventuresundertaken by physicians. As errors occur, the main challenge thatthe professionals face is whether to disclose or to conceal them.Medication errors arise when doctors or other practitionersincorrectly administer drugs to patients, dispense or wronglyprescribe a medical procedure. Kalraet al. (2013) illustrate that theymostly fail to reveal in part to evade malpractice lawsuit or toavoid being embarrassed. Nonetheless, physicians should disclose theerrors they have done while attending to a patient because it wouldprevent harm and also show some sympathy to the bereaved.
Legaland Ethical Implications of Disclosure or Nondisclosure
Accordingto the American Nurses Associations code of ethics (2015), allmedical practitioners are obliged to report to the relevantauthorities any error they have done. The legal implication that mayfollow the disclosure of a medical error is that the physician has alikelihood of facing a malpractice lawsuit. However, it is better todisclose the error instead of waiting for it to be revealed throughmedical-legal review panel. Another legal implication is that thehealth care providers may lose their jobs or licenses as well onreporting a medical error previously committed. If a doctor fails todisclose and the review team discovers the error, then theperpetrator is brought before the law to face charges.
Anethical implication of disclosing is that the clients may developtrust in the physician. Moffatt-Bruceet al. (2016) indicates that itleads to open working relationships with them. The clients may feelthat they are being presented with complete medical informationregarding their overall care hence improved faith on the medicalprovider. They may argue that all humans are prone to errors and as aresult, they would forgive them upon disclosing the information.However, such measures may also lead to attacks on doctors. Hannawa(2012) indicatesthat patients may develop confidence if the caregivers are honestwith them.
Marylandoffers legal protection to physicians who apologize to the victimsand where applicable, necessary amends are undertaken in time. Insome cases, it may tarnish the name of the caregiver if the truth isrevealed. On the other hand, non-disclosure may lead to a lack oftrust and may also cause harm to the patient’s body. Additionally,the caregiver may feel guilty if the victim succumbs to the injuriescaused by the errors.
Asan advanced nurse, I would first evaluate whether the error I havemade would lead to any harm to the patient. If there is no cause foralarm, I may decline to reveal the error to avoid causing anxiety tothe patient (Moffatt-Bruceet al., 2016).As a result, the client would experience a normal recovery. However,if the error is serious and if revealed may lead to trial at thecourt of law, then I would inform the relevant authorities instead ofthe client. I would disclose the details to the chief medicalofficers or the employer who would then evaluate what measures totake.
Nevertheless,upon detecting that the therapeutic misadventure may lead to death orserious harm to the patient, I would disclose the information to theperson and take the necessary measures promptly. Likewise, I would doso even if the patient has passed away and apologize to the bereaved.I would revisit the golden rule, that is, I am supposed to do what Iexpect other people to do for me. It is arguably the safest course ofaction against liability. It is also appropriate from a medicalethics standpoint
Strategiesand Process of avoiding Errors during Prescriptions
Theinitial step to be undertaken in an attempt to minimize errors shouldbe to ensure that the physician reduces or eliminates all potentialdistractions. They should avoid multitasking during prescriptions(Peterson& Arcangelo, 2013).There should be specialization in medical centers, for instance, thepharmacists should do a separate work from the doctors. The movewould help each worker master their specific task hence minimizingerrors.
Drugsshould also be stored properly. There should be labeling so that whena certain medication is prescribed by the doctor, the pharmacistcannot give a different one (Peterson& Arcangelo, 2013).There should be checking and counterchecking of the drug shelves toensure that each drug is in its rightful place. Crosschecking shouldfrequently be done in that the pharmacist is supposed to confirmwhether the prescription written on the drug coincides with the onethat appears on the computer.
Patientsin most cases are keen to be informed about any error that has causedharm to their bodies. Also, the bill of rights demand fulldisclosure, and despite the act of revealing the mistake beingpersonally and professionally challenging, health caregivers shouldrealize that no one is perfect. They should accept and take thenecessary steps. They can initiate an immediate rectification beforejeopardizing the health status of the client. It is advisable toapologize to the bereaved if the worse has happened to show somesympathy and reveal to them that it was unintentional. However,information regarding an error should be concealed if there is noharm accompanying it.
Hannawa,A. F. (2012). Principles of medical ethics: implications for thedisclosure of medical errors. MedicolegalBioethics,2,1-11.
Kalra,J., Kalra, N., & Baniak, N. (2013). Medical error, disclosure,and patient safety: A global view of quality care. ClinicalBiochemistry,46(13),1161-1169.
Moffatt-Bruce,S. D., Ferdinand, F. D., & Fann, J. I. (2016). Patient safety:disclosure of medical errors and risk mitigation. TheAnnals of Thoracic Surgery,102(2),358-362.
Peterson,A. M., & Arcangelo, V. P. (Eds.). (2013). Pharmacotherapeuticsfor Advanced Practice: A Practical Approach.Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.