Full Essay on Medical Errors
Medical errors are ever present in the healthcare setting. With healthcare professionals
prone to committing a bulk of mistakes owing to several factors, they are predisposed
continuously to (World Health Organization., 2017). Prescription errors having the lion’s share
of the mistakes. Such errors have both ethical and legal implications, regardless of one’s scope of
practice in the healthcare team, irrespective of how insignificant the error may be perceived to be
by the healthcare providers.
For fear of the potential consequences, one may opt not to report the
error. In such a case, one ought to take into account the possible implication of non-disclosure of
the committed error. Abrupt response to prescription errors is bound to affect the prescriber, the
patient and the entire facility. Hence the focus of this research paper is to succinctly ethical, legal
implications of disclosure and non-disclosure in the state of Virginia, the roles of an advanced
nurse practitioner in this scenario, and the process of writing prescriptions including strategies to
The ethical implications of disclosure and nondisclosure.
Making errors committed known or the choice to hide wrongdoing can be a tempting
issue to a myriad of healthcare givers. Medical errors, often perceived as mistakes committed by
healthcare givers, which eventually put the client’s life at risk, are inclusive of diagnosis errors,
medication errors, errors of execution, and errors of planning. All of which have a considerable
impact on the life of the patient at hand (Ghazal, Saleem, & Amlani., 2014). Whenever there’s a
medical error, it is often a dilemma for healthcare givers to disclose or not to disclose (Sharpe.,
2017). Hence further highlighting the ethical principle of autonomy. They are purely based on
the intent to be truthful regardless of the consequences one might face. The healthcare provider’s
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ability to be truthful ferments a significant relationship between the care provider and the patient
further advancing levels of care given. Ethically, disclosing the errors is the best thing to do for
both the patient and the nurse.
On the other hand, nondisclosure shrouds the workplace with secrecy. As healthcare
givers, it is our sole duty to do no harm to the patient. Avoiding disclosing such errors do
adversely jeopardize the levels of care administered to patients. Legally, nondisclosure does put
the care provider’s practising license at risk as such individuals cannot be entrusted to provide
care to patients in our healthcare settings. As per the patient’s bill of rights, any medical error
ought to be disclosed fully, failure to which, the error can result in an increase in mortality rates
often projected at hospitals. As per the principle, autonomy, disclosure is well justified (Ghazal,
Saleem, & Amlani., 2014).
What I would do as an advanced practice nurse
As nurses, we do face several challenges as we strive to provide the best form of care to
our patients. However, we do expose our patients to harm whenever we fail to disclose
medication errors. Often, as a result of fellow healthcare providers in an attempt to cover up for
misdeeds. Simultaneously putting the life of the patient at risk. As a nurse, it is my sole duty to
protect the patient’s rights at all costs, inclusive of advocating for patient safety. Providing the
patient with the best possible odds for a safe recovery ought to be of crucial importance to me. I
will collect data about the supposed medication error, the stakeholders inclusive of the patient as
the primary stakeholder and further evaluate their perception of the conflict.
I will then carefully evaluate the context in which the error occurred devoid of pointing
fingers. Secondly, I will explore all avenues existent for solving the issue, and I will then
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carefully analyze the pros and cons of each decision I will make; disclose or not to disclose,
lastly, I will select a moral criterion in which I will base my judgment. As per the ethical
principle of autonomy, I will choose an action that has the most benefit for the patient at hand. In
the case of a medication error, I would discuss the issue with the prescribing physician then
disclose the error to the patient with the physician. Accepting wrongdoing ought to be the first
step towards correction. After which, I will ensure that the patient is provided for the right
prescription. Lastly, I will evaluate the choice made, and this will aid in justifying my decision as
well as gauge the effectiveness of my decision on the patient.
The process of writing prescriptions.
The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has clear cut guidelines on the
process of prescription. Ranging from oral prescriptions to electronically transmitted
prescriptions. For oral prescriptions, the patient’s biodata ought to be accurately entered with the
prescription having the prescriber’s name with a hand signed. The prescription should also be
precisely dated (Poston et al., 2017).
Strategies to minimize medication errors
To ensure medication errors are reduced, a couple of approaches have been instituted
inclusive of: ascertaining the entry of the prescriptions with the inclusion of computerized
provider-order systems, installation of automated dispensing cabinets, standardizing the
medication and use processes, and introduction of barcoding systems (Strategies for reducing
medication errors in the emergency department., n.d). A fundamental shift to technology to help
curb human error is increasingly evident in modern-day healthcare settings (Norman et al.,
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Ghazal, L., Saleem, Z., & Amlani, G. (2014). A medical error: To disclose or not to disclose. J
Clin Res Bioeth, 5(174), 2.
Norman, G. R., Monteiro, S. D., Sherbino, J., Ilgen, J. S., Schmidt, H. G., & Mamede, S. (2017).
The causes of errors in clinical reasoning: cognitive biases, knowledge deficits, and dual
process thinking. Academic Medicine, 92(1), 23-30.
Poston, R., Reynolds, C. W., Walker, K., Borzelleca Jr, J. F., Wendy Dotson, C. N. M., Harrison,
C. A., … & Douglas, J. P. (2017). VIRGINIA BOARD OF NURSING COMMITTEE OF
THE JOINT BOARDS OF NURSING AND MEDICINE BUSINESS MEETING
MINUTES February 8, 2017.
Sharpe, V. A. (2017). Mistakes, Medical. Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics, 1-8.
Strategies for reducing medication errors in the emergency department. (n.d.). Retrieved from
World Health Organization. (2017). Patient safety: making health care safer (No.
WHO/HIS/SDS/2017.11). World Health Organization.