NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment Example

NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs AssignmentNURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment

NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment Brief

Course: NURS 6521 – Advanced Pharmacology

Assignment Title: NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment

Assignment Instructions Overview

This assignment involves a comprehensive examination of the ethical and legal implications associated with prescribing drugs. Advanced practice nurses (APNs) must evaluate various factors when prescribing medications, including the patient’s diagnosis, appropriate drug choice, dosage, administration frequency, contraindications, and potential complications. The assignment aims to ensure that APNs are well-versed in the professional, legal, and ethical standards that govern their prescriptive authority and understand how state-specific regulations might influence their prescribing practices.

Understanding Assignment Objectives

The primary objective of this assignment is to develop an in-depth understanding of the ethical and legal responsibilities of APNs when prescribing medications. Students will explore scenarios that highlight potential medication errors and analyze their implications on all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and the patient’s family. The assignment encourages students to think critically about the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice, and how these ethical principles should guide their decision-making process.

The Student’s Role

As an advanced practice nurse, students are responsible for making informed and ethically sound decisions in their prescribing practices. This role involves being accountable for patient safety and well-being, maintaining professional integrity, and adhering to both legal standards and ethical guidelines. Students are expected to conduct thorough research on state-specific laws and standards related to prescribing prescription drugs and addressing medication errors. They should be prepared to communicate openly with patients and their families, especially in instances of medication errors, and implement strategies to prevent such errors from recurring.

Competencies Measured

This assignment measures several key competencies essential for advanced practice nursing, including:

  • Ethical Decision-Making: The ability to apply ethical principles to real-world scenarios and make decisions that prioritize patient safety and autonomy.
  • Legal Knowledge: Understanding the legal requirements and regulations related to prescribing medications in different states, and how to comply with these laws.
  • Clinical Judgment: Assessing patient-specific factors that might influence drug efficacy and safety, and making appropriate clinical decisions based on this assessment.
  • Communication Skills: Effectively communicating with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals, particularly regarding the disclosure of medication errors.
  • Risk Management: Implementing strategies to minimize the risk of medication errors and ensuring a culture of safety within the healthcare setting.

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NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment Example


Advanced practice nurses (APNs) with prescriptive authority bear the significant responsibility of ensuring patient safety and adherence to legal and ethical standards. The process of prescribing drugs involves considering the patient’s diagnosis, the appropriate medication, dosage, administration frequency, contraindications, and potential complications. Furthermore, state regulations and ethical principles guide APNs in their practice. This paper examines the ethical and legal implications of a medication error scenario, explores strategies for addressing disclosure and nondisclosure, and outlines approaches to minimize such errors.

Ethical and Legal Implications: Scenario Analysis

A common scenario involves an APN who mistakenly prescribes an incorrect dosage of a medication to a patient, leading to adverse effects. This situation impacts multiple stakeholders. The prescriber may face malpractice claims and licensure consequences. Ethically, the prescriber is obligated to rectify the error and prevent further harm. The pharmacist is responsible for verifying prescriptions and may share liability if the error is not caught. The patient suffers direct health impacts, while the family deals with emotional and financial burdens. Ethically, they deserve transparency and honesty about the error. The healthcare institution may face reputational damage and financial liabilities. There is also an ethical obligation to support a culture of safety and accountability.

Each state has specific regulations governing the practice of APNs. For instance, in California, APNs must adhere to the guidelines set by the California Board of Registered Nursing, which includes mandatory reporting of medication errors and following specific protocols for prescribing and documentation (California Board of Registered Nursing, 2021). Failure to comply can result in disciplinary action and legal consequences.

Strategies for Disclosure and Nondisclosure

Disclosing medication errors to the patient and their family is ethically imperative. It aligns with the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence, ensuring that patients are fully informed about their treatment and any associated risks. Employing a compassionate and supportive approach when communicating errors helps maintain trust and facilitates a constructive dialogue about corrective measures.

Nondisclosure can lead to legal repercussions, including malpractice lawsuits and loss of licensure. It also undermines patient trust and violates ethical principles. From an ethical standpoint, nondisclosure conflicts with the principles of autonomy and justice, depriving patients of their right to make informed decisions about their care.

Strategies for Ethical and Legal Decision-Making

Implementing Ethical Guidelines

  • Adherence to Ethical Principles: APNs should follow ethical guidelines such as the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics, which emphasizes patient safety, honesty, and accountability (American Nurses Association, 2015).
  • Ongoing Education: Regular training on ethical decision-making and legal requirements can help APNs stay informed and prepared to handle complex situations.

Minimizing Medication Errors

  • Use of Technology: Implementing electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems can reduce the risk of errors by providing accurate, up-to-date patient information and alerting prescribers to potential issues.
  • Collaborative Practice: Encouraging a team-based approach where APNs work closely with pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals can enhance the verification process and catch errors before they reach the patient.


APNs must navigate the complex landscape of legal and ethical considerations when prescribing drugs. Understanding state regulations, adhering to ethical principles, and employing strategies to minimize errors and ensure transparency enables APNs to uphold their professional responsibilities and protect patient safety. Regular education and the use of technology are crucial in fostering a safe and effective healthcare environment.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Publishing.

California Board of Registered Nursing. (2021). Laws and Regulations. Retrieved from California BRN.

Niemann, D., Bertsche, A., Meyrath, D., Koepf, E. D., Traiser, C., Seebald, K., & Bertsche, T. (2015). A prospective three-step intervention study to prevent medication errors in drug handling in pediatric care. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 24(1-2), 101-114.

Detailed Assessment Instructions for the NURS 6521 Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs Assignment

Assignment: Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs

What type of drug should you prescribe based on your patient’s diagnosis? How much of the drug should the patient receive? How often should the drug be administered? When should the drug not be prescribed? Are there individual patient factors that could create complications when taking the drug? Should you be prescribing drugs to this patient? How might different state regulations affect the prescribing of this drug to this patient?

These are some of the questions you might consider when selecting a treatment plan for a patient.

As an advanced practice nurse prescribing drugs, you are held accountable for people’s lives every day. Patients and their families will often place trust in you because of your position. With this trust comes power and responsibility, as well as an ethical and legal obligation to “do no harm.” It is important that you are aware of current professional, legal, and ethical standards for advanced practice nurses with prescriptive authority. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the treatment plans and administration/prescribing of drugs is in accordance with the regulations of the state in which you practice. Understanding how these regulations may affect the prescribing of certain drugs in different states may have a significant impact on your patient’s treatment plan. In this Assignment, you explore ethical and legal implications of scenarios and consider how to appropriately respond.

To Prepare

Review the Resources for this module and consider the legal and ethical implications of prescribing prescription drugs, disclosure, and nondisclosure.

  • Review the scenario assigned by your Instructor for this Assignment.
  • Search specific laws and standards for prescribing prescription drugs and for addressing medication errors for your state or region, and reflect on these as you review the scenario assigned by your Instructor.
  • Consider the ethical and legal implications of the scenario for all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family.
  • Think about two strategies that you, as an advanced practice nurse, would use to guide your ethically and legally responsible decision-making in this scenario, including whether you would disclose any medication errors.

By Day 7 of Week 1

Write a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following:

  • Explain the ethical and legal implications of the scenario you selected on all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family.
  • Describe strategies to address disclosure and nondisclosure as identified in the scenario you selected. Be sure to reference laws specific to your state.
  • Explain two strategies that you, as an advanced practice nurse, would use to guide your decision making in this scenario, including whether you would disclose your error. Be sure to justify your explanation.
  • Explain the process of writing prescriptions, including strategies to minimize medication errors.

Reminder: The College of Nursing requires that all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references. The College of Nursing Writing Template with Instructions provided at the Walden Writing Center offers an example of those required elements (available at All papers submitted must use this formatting.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK1Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment  You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer Find the document you saved as “WK1Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submitbutton to complete your submission.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7 of Week 1

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