If I prescribe medication to my friend without looking at the medical history or without a suitable diagnosis, I am violating both legal and ethical regulations. According to the nursing code of ethics, the nurse has to establish professional boundaries (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2001). Unlike purely personal relationships, relationships with patients need to be structured relationships aimed at improving the patients’ well-being. Several other ethical standards are violated as well because I engaged in a questionable practice that could possibly jeopardize my friend’s safety.
Furthermore, prescribing controlled substances without a systematic approach and diagnostic evidence is a violation of the Food and Drug Administration Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2013). Without considering patient information or conducting medical assessments, consequences of possible adverse health effects caused by irresponsible medication prescription can include disciplinary action, job dismissal, or criminal charges (Anderson & Townsend, 2010).
As an advanced practice nurse, my responsibility is to care for patients, but I also need to adhere to my legal and ethical responsibilities. In this particular case, a suitable strategy would be to set boundaries because the personal relationship with my friend may influence my professional standards and decision-making. I could avoid those issues by referring my friend to another healthcare practitioner.
Another option is to request my friend’s medical history, engage in patient education about responsible and targeted drug use, and request follow-up assessments if necessary to confirm my friend’s requirement for that medication. However, I would also ask a supervisor or colleague for a second opinion about the diagnosis and prescription. With that strategy in place, I would ensure an unbiased opinion on the case. If my friend refused to follow professional standards, I would decline prescribing the medication.
American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Nursing World. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-of-Ethics.pdf
Anderson, P., & Townsend, T. (2010). Medication errors: Don't let them happen to you. American Nurse Today, 5(3), 23-28. Retrieved from http://www.americannursetoday.com/assets/0/434/436/440/6276/6334/6350/6356/8b8dac76-6061-4521-8b43-d0928ef8de07.pdf
Arcangelo, V. P., & Peterson, A. M. (Eds.). (2013). Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: A practical approach (3rd ed.). Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.