Health Law: Jerry’s Case Study With Medication Prescription


In this case study, an office assistant for Dr. Williams called Jerry is trained as a medical assistant and is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Jerry is covering for a receptionist who has gone out for lunch and in the event he is faced with a difficult situation to handle as the doctor’s assistant. The patient has called Jerry to call in a pharmacy for a refill for Valium (Garrett et al, 2010). This analysis will give reasons why Jerry is not qualified to refill any medication prescription. Then the fate of Jerry incase a lawsuit will be filled. This paper will also move on to offer advice to Jerry on the right action he should have taken, and finally cite some ethical and legal issues involved in this case.

Why Jerry is not qualified to refill any medication prescription

The California Business and Professions Code, Section 2069, the medical training that Jerry posses do not permit him to issue a refill order. Jerry has gained knowledge about medical prescription through experience coupled with his training as a LPN and a medical assistant. This should make him know what his responsibilities are as far as his profession is concerned. This means that Jerry has no authority to refill a prescription medication since that is beyond his responsibilities. A medical doctor, psychologist or a dentist can handle the work of refilling a prescription for medication. At his level Jerry should be in a position to understand that valium is an addictive drug. With his training, Jerry should know that he is not allowed to refill any type of medication under whatever circumstance. The right thing for Jerry to do is to arrange for the patient to meet the physician since the prescription bottle has no extra refills in this case. The patient could also ask for a high blood pressure refill apart from his initial request for valium refill medication. In a case where the medical doctor has renewed the prescription for the patient, then she will be right to call and request for refill as long as her prescription bottle shows that the patient qualifies for a refill.

The fate of Jerry incase a lawsuit will be filled against him

According to Davant (2002), doctrine of respondent superior simply means that the actions of an employee are a liability to the employer as long as the actions took place during execution of his employment duty. Argument on whether Jerry acted within his scope of duty depends on several facts in this case. In order for him to be held liable, or not the court will consider Jerry’s assigned duties and job description, place, time, the intention of Jerry’s actions, whether such an occurrence could have been expected, and the extent to which Jerry’s decision conformed to what he was hired to do (Davant, 2002). The information given in this case does not clearly reveal whether Jerry had acted according to prior instructions he might have received from his employer or not. This, therefore, means that under the doctrine of respondent superior, there may be protection for Jerry. Even if the employee acts for purely personal reasons, the employer is usually liable to the customer as long as the employer legally owes the duty of special care and protection. Jerry will only be liable if he carried out the malpractice on his own insurance. According to Mackay (2006), if the malpractice insurance is Jerry’s, then he will have to cater for the costs of hiring a lawyer to represent him before the Nursing Board.

Advice to Jerry on the right action he should have taken

Jerry should be genuine to the patient and make the patient understand how operations are carried out in health institutions. He should inform the patient that he is not allowed under whatever circumstance to refill a prescription medication. In addition, he should also tell the patient of his knowledge about the difficult situation that is facing her or him only that he cannot act as the patient expects. Instead, Jerry should promise the patient that he would arrange for the patient to be assisted before his departure time. The last thing that Jerry should do is informing Dr. Williams about what took place between him (Jerry) and the patient.

Legal issues involved in this case

The major legal issue that may affect the decision that would be taken by Jerry is that he may lose the nursing license, which will eventually lead to his sacking. This will arise from the fact that Jerry may endanger the life of the patient in the event of disregarding his responsibilities. On the patient’s side, it is not clear whether the patient ought to be given more refills and, therefore, the situation requires more consultation from the doctor. The ethical issue that would face Jerry is that he will be considering working in the interest of his company as well as satisfying the clients. Similarly, there may be the aspect of Jerry being tempted to falsify information to the patient. According to O’Fallon & Butterfield (2005), the ethics of healthcare state that the preferences of health care workers should come after the well-being of the patient. This means that it is important to protect all patients’ well-being and safety rather than practitioners who are enthusiastic, and are more prone to using treatments that they believe will do the most good, without carrying out sufficient evaluation on the patient to ensure maximum safety for the patient (O’Fallon & Butterfield, 2005).

Ethical issues involved in this case

Ethical decision making is concerned with making decisions in specific setting within the context of ethics. The problems solving method that will help to make a decision that is ethical is first defining the situation, then analyze through evaluation of values and principles, and finally make the decision. This situation comprises of values and principles that are competing. It is important to consider important loyalties and duties during ethical decision-making. Loyalty to patient, loyalty to self, loyalty to fellow employees, loyalty to the public, and loyalty to others in the same profession are duties that must be considered in this case study. To start the process of making decision Jerry should gather information about the diagnosis of the patient, prognosis, options of treatment and the best medical judgments for the patient. Jerry should look at the risks and side effects of such step as suggested by the patient (Mitty & Post, 2008). Then determine whether there exists any conflict of values. If there is any ethical conflict then Jerry should articulate the ethical principles that are in conflict and then make the decision.


Finally, it would be worse to do so good to the patient than to do no harm. Therefore, Jerry should have told the patient that he could not call in the prescription but give an assurance to the patient that he would let her or his needs known to the physician so that they can be well taken care of by the physician in good time.

Reference List

Garrett, T et al. (2010). Health care ethics: principles and problems. New York: Pearson Education.

Mackay, T. (2009). Worried about a malpractice lawsuit? The board of nurses should worry you more. Web.

Mitty, E.L, & Post, L.F. (2008). Health care decision making: Evidence-Based Geriatric Nursing Protocols for Best Practice. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

O’Fallon, M. J., & Butterfield, K. D. (2005). A review of the empirical ethical decision- making literature. Journal of Business Ethics, 59(4), 375–413.