Health care givers often find themselves in with tough choices to make in regards to their patients. The toughness of these choices is necessitated by the tight rope that they walk between legal provisions and ethical considerations. While following legal structure are clear cut, with obvious consequences if breached, ethical considerations are not and it becomes even tougher for a health provider if at all the ethics seem to impede the help they want to give a patient.
Ethical Issues and Legal Considerations
The duties and responsibility of a medical assistant and a licensed practical nurse are more of administrative and clinical. This disqualifies Jerry from refilling any prescription for Dr. William’s patients. It is only certified professionals such as pharmacists and doctors who are allowed by the law to fill and refill the prescription of patients (Fremgen, 2009).
Regardless of the type of medicine that a patient may require a refill, Jerry is not allowed to call for a refill of any prescription drugs. This is because, as stated above, he is legally limited since he is neither a doctor nor a psychologist. Besides, as an LPN, he knows that valium is highly addictive and can have adverse effects upon the patient. It would, therefore, be wise not to refill the drug without the consent of his doctor (Fremgen, 2009)
The doctrine of respondent superior stipulates that while making claims a plaintiff needs to prove that there is an employer-employee existence. This is determined by the degree of control that the employer exercises, the type of occupation and the skills that are needed for the performance of the occupational duties (Thorton, 2010). In Jerry’s case, there exists the employer-employees relation because he is Dr. William’s office assistant. He is also both a medical assistant and an LPN and therefore carries out administrative duties in Dr. William’s clinic. With the establishment of this fact a court would then be tasked to determine if at all the conduct occurred within the scope of employment.
Generally, an act fall within the scope of employment if at all it was the kind of job that the employee was hired to perform; if it happened within the temporal and spatial limits of the typical workplace and if at all it was motivated to serve the interest of the employer (Thorton, 2010). On this premise, Jerry’s protection would founder because, by the dint of his qualifications, he is not hired to call in refills and therefore he could have done it in the interest of his employer.
Jerry would better be advised to talk the patient into understanding that his mandate as an LPN is limited to administrative issues; that only the doctor can conduct a drug refill and this is to the interest of the patient. The decision that Jerry makes in this instance will be contingent upon several ethical and legal considerations. The urgency of the refill of the drug by the patient and his closeness to Dr. William would impel Jerry to work under pressure to help the patient. He might be impelled to consider himself as the deciding factor of the future well-being of the patient.
Obviously, the decision he is going to make, if favorable to the patient will lack any legal backing. He has to protect the interest of his employer as much as that of his patients. The only legal basis that would impede him from helping the patient would be his limited mandate as an LPN; the health repercussions upon the patient and the legal backlash if at all things go awry.
The most efficient problem-solving method in making ethical decisions could first involve the recognition of the problem that needs to be addressed. Jerry would then have to determine the factors that are needed to provide solutions. Equally important would be the gathering of relevant facts about the problem. He would then have to conduct a test concerning the right verses wrong issues about the problem and then again determine the right verses right values. The tests will empower him to apply standards and perspective on solving the problem. But before he makes the decision, he should take into consideration the possibility of having a third way (Batson et al., 2002).
The decisions in regards to the welfare of patients solidly rely on health practitioners. It is however quite imperative that the health practitioners become well aware of their limitations as dictated by the existing legal structures and their ethical requirements. This will go a long way in averting any health or legal tussles that may arise in the future, occasioned by negligence.
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