Jerry is a trained medical assistant and has the sufficient knowledge to issue a refill. However, in the situation he is faced with, he has to examine the medical history of the patient. He has further to consult with Dr. William who has been treating him and has some background and determine if the patient can be issued with a refill. In the event that Dr. William is not immediately reachable, he will have to examine the patient because he lacks any background information. Thorough medical checks have to be carried out so as to avoid a situation where a patient is issued with wrong medicines which may be harmful to their body. If the doctor also does not authorize the issuing of drugs then the patient has to be examined before issuing of the drugs. This is so because medical information of a patient is confidential, therefore Jerry cannot go into the Dr. Williams files to get the information.
If the patient was suffering from high blood pressure, which is a life threatening disease and proves that he has been under medication, medicine could be issued. The proof that he is suffering from the disease is important by showing of previous documents which bear his name or other identification. If sufficient evidence that the medicine is needed daily to suppress the blood pressure, he can go ahead and issue them. It would help save a life which is the basic requirement of any medical personnel. Denial of the medicine would mean that the patient’s life is at risk and would be against the oath of service taken by Jerry (Sugarman, &Sulmasy, 2010).
In the event that Jerry issues a refill order for the medicines and the patient reacts negatively, he will be protected from a lawsuit. The principle of respondent superior proposes that an employee acting at the behest of their employer cannot be held accountable personally. This means that the employer has to take responsibility of any outcome due to the actions of the employee provided that the actions were taken within place of employment. In the case of Jerry, he will have issued the order for a refill at his station of work therefore, cannot be held personally accountable for any complications that arise. However, within the organization there could be some code of conduct which guides the actions taken by the employees at the place of work. This code of conduct can be used to enforce internal discipline but not in court. Ultimately, he is therefore shielded at a personal level (Smith, 1999).
Jerry should avoid issuing a refill order unless directed by Doctor William. If the doctor is not available on a media which can be used as a proof, he should avoid issuing a refill. Given the fact that the patient has a few minutes to flying, there would not be sufficient time for testing and determining the medical history of the patient. The medicines being requested were not about saving a life at risk (Singer, 2011). It would be wrong to put the employer at the risk of legal suits in the event that the patient develops complications. Further, he could be punished internally for going against a code of conduct and it may cost him his job.
Jerry is faced with both legal and ethical problems in handling this scenario. Legally it is wrong to issue a patient with medicine without determining whether they are sick or not. In fact, it is against the profession of medicine and the oaths administered when one is accepted into the field. Further, he could peruse the database held by Doctor William so as to find out if the patient has been regularly receiving the medicine as stated (Ruddick, 1998). This is unacceptable by law in relation to the profession as a patients status is private and is kept secret. Throughout the world, privacy laws are supposed to be upheld. It should only be known to the doctor and patient. Ethically, it is human to try and understand the plight of the patient. While it would have been good to order a refill on the basis that the doctor and secretary were not available and the patient was about to fly, it may turn out to be legally complicated (Campbell, 1997).
Problem solving is a way by which people are able to perceive, analyze and find solutions to difficulties. Jerry could use analysis of the patient and the evidence he had on him to determine whether it was viable to issue the refill order. Consultation with other professionals in the field would also help him make an informed decision. It is from such consultations that one is able to be clear on what the profession requires of them or use precedence set by those who have been in such situations before. Before making the final decision, it would also be prudent for Jerry to consider the consequences of all the actions. Alternatives should also be analyzed critically taking into account the ethical and legal expectations (Baddeley, 1989). The fact that the situation is not life threatening gives him a leeway even not to issue a refill for the medicines should he not be satisfied with the explanation offered. In medicine, the life of the patient is considered as the number one priority; and he may choose not to give the drugs if he feels it may turn out to be a threat to the patient’s life.
Baddeley, A. (1989). Cognitive Psychology. New Jersey: L. Erlbaum press.
Campbell, A. (1997). Medical ethics. (2nd ed.).Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ruddick, W. (1998). Medical Ethics. Retrieved from
Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics. (3rd ed.). London: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, K. (1999). Code of Conduct. New York: HarperCollins.
Sugarman, J., &Sulmasy, D. (2010). Methods in Medical Ethics. (2nd ed.). Washington DC:
Georgetown University Press.