Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs – JJ is a 7-year-old male that has been dealing with asthma his entire life

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs – JJ is a 7-year-old male that has been dealing with asthma his entire life

JJ, a 7-year-old male, has been managing asthma since childhood. Despite trying multiple treatments that partially alleviate symptoms, no complete solution has been found. As the treating healthcare provider, you are aware of a study on a new asthma medication under development. This medication combines a bronchodilator, steroid, and antihistamine in inhalation form. However, none of the drugs being studied have received approval for use in children under 12 years old. The study is scheduled to last for 16 weeks. This paper aims to explore the ethical and legal implications of prescribing drugs in this scenario, focusing on all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family. Additionally, strategies to address disclosure and nondisclosure in the given situation will be discussed, with references to specific state laws.

Ethical and Legal Implications on Stakeholders


As a prescriber, you have an ethical and legal obligation to prioritize patient safety and well-being. In this scenario, you must consider the potential risks and benefits of prescribing a medication that has not yet been approved for children under 12. Failure to thoroughly evaluate the implications and disclose relevant information to the patient and family could lead to legal repercussions and harm to the patient.


The pharmacist also plays a crucial role in ensuring patient safety. They have a responsibility to verify the appropriateness of prescribed medications, including off-label use or drugs not yet approved for certain age groups. Failing to address potential issues or dispensing drugs without proper evaluation may result in legal liabilities and jeopardize patient well-being.

Patient and Patient’s Family

Patients and their families have the right to be fully informed about their medical treatment. In this case, disclosing the experimental nature of the medication and the lack of approval for their age group is essential to obtain informed consent. Non-disclosure could lead to ethical concerns and legal disputes if adverse effects occur without prior knowledge.

Strategies for Disclosure and Nondisclosure

To address disclosure, the prescriber must engage in open and transparent communication with the patient and family. Providing detailed information about the experimental nature of the medication, its potential benefits, and associated risks can help the family make an informed decision.

As for nondisclosure, it is crucial to respect the patient’s confidentiality and privacy rights. However, if the patient’s safety is at risk due to potential adverse effects, it becomes necessary to share relevant information with the patient’s legal guardian.

Strategies for Decision Making

As an advanced practice nurse, two key strategies guide decision-making in this scenario. Firstly, thoroughly assessing the patient’s medical history, current condition, and treatment response will help in making an informed decision regarding the medication’s appropriateness. Secondly, consulting with a multidisciplinary team, including pediatric specialists, can provide valuable insights and ensure comprehensive decision-making.

Process of Writing Prescriptions and Minimizing Medication Errors

Writing prescriptions involves several steps, starting with accurately identifying the patient’s condition and determining the appropriate drug and dosage. To minimize medication errors, it is crucial to use electronic prescribing systems that offer dosage recommendations and alerts for potential drug interactions or allergies. Regularly reviewing and updating the patient’s medication list can also help prevent errors in the prescription process.


Prescribing drugs to a pediatric patient involves complex ethical and legal considerations. As healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to prioritize patient safety, ensure informed decision-making, and adhere to state laws and regulations. Thoroughly evaluating the benefits and risks, along with transparent communication with the patient and family, can guide us in making ethical and appropriate decisions regarding medication management. Additionally, adopting strategies to minimize medication errors further contributes to safe and effective patient care.

Ethical and Legal Implications of Prescribing Drugs


The principle of “above all, do no harm” underscores the importance of ethical, legal, and medical considerations in healthcare, especially when it comes to prescribing drugs. Patient safety is paramount, and nurses must prioritize safeguarding patients from harm while considering off-label drugs and drugs with known adverse effects. In this paper, we will explore the ethical and legal implications of prescribing drugs to a 7-year-old male, JJ, who has been dealing with asthma his entire life. We will also discuss strategies to address disclosure and non-disclosure and guide decision-making in this scenario.

Case Overview

JJ, a 7-year-old male with chronic asthma, has not found complete relief from current treatments. A study about a new asthma medication combining a bronchodilator, steroid, and antihistamine is being conducted. However, the drugs are not yet approved for children under 12, and the study lasts 16 weeks.

Ethical and Legal Implications


Nurses have a legal and ethical responsibility to educate patients and evaluate the benefits versus risks of drugs not yet approved for use. Failure to prioritize patient safety may result in legal charges and loss of practice license.


Pharmacists must ensure the right drug is prescribed for the right patient. They should evaluate risks versus benefits of off-label drugs and provide professional advice. Violation of these responsibilities can lead to loss of practice license.

Patient and Patient’s Family

Patients have the right to information, and the nurse should discuss the diagnosis, management options, and side effects with both the child and caregiver. Failure to share information violates the patient’s right to informed consent and may lead to legal action.

Strategies to Address Disclosure and Non-Disclosure

Nurses should comply with the state’s Nursing Practice Act, ensuring comprehensive discussions about drugs, obtaining informed consent, and confirming the need for the new drug.

Strategies to Guide Decision Making

The nurse should share details of the new drug with the patient and consult a specialist. If benefits outweigh risks and with the caregiver’s consent, the drug may be prescribed; otherwise, reevaluation is needed.

Process of Writing Prescriptions

When writing a prescription, clinicians must determine the patient’s issues, evaluate therapeutic objectives, select the right drug, start therapy, educate the patient on risks and benefits, and conduct regular follow-up.


Arcangelo, V. P., Peterson, A. M., Wilbur, V., & Reinhold, J. A. (Eds.). (2017). Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: A practical approach (4th ed.). Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Clark, J. (2018). Rational prescribing in primary health care. In Releasing Resources to Achieve Health Gain (pp. 31-36). CRC Press.

Mitchell, A., & Oliphant, C. M. (2016). Responsibility for Ethical Prescribing. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12(3), A20.