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Posted: August 30th, 2023

Ethical and Legal Considerations in Pediatric Care


TF is an 18-month-old boy who was admitted to your hospital for failure to thrive and losing 6 lbs. You have found that he has extreme blockage throughout his GI system with severe impaction throughout. He is in a great deal of pain and is screaming. His parents are adamant that they do not want treatments due to religious beliefs. They have stated that they boy’s grandfather, an elder in their church, is on his way to pray over the boy and heal him.

Write a 2 page paper that addresses the following:

Explain the ethical and legal implications of the scenario you selected on all stakeholders involved, such as the prescriber, pharmacist, patient, and patient’s family.
Describe strategies to address disclosure and nondisclosure as identified in the scenario you selected. Be sure to reference laws specific to your state.
Explain two strategies that you, as an advanced practice nurse, would use to guide your decision making in this scenario, including whether you would disclose your error. Be sure to justify your explanation.
Explain the process of writing prescriptions, including strategies to minimize medication errors.

Ethical and Legal Considerations in Pediatric Care: Balancing Beliefs and Health

In the realm of pediatric healthcare, intricate scenarios often demand a delicate balance between ethical considerations, legal obligations, and religious beliefs. The case of TF, an 18-month-old boy facing severe GI issues and parental religious objections to medical intervention, presents a challenging confluence of factors that require a thoughtful and informed approach from all stakeholders involved.

Ethical and Legal Implications

The ethical and legal implications of TF’s case extend across various stakeholders, each with distinct roles and responsibilities. The prescriber, as a medical professional, faces the ethical dilemma of respecting the parents’ religious beliefs while safeguarding the child’s well-being. Balancing the parental autonomy with the child’s right to receive adequate medical care forms the crux of this conundrum. The pharmacist, on the other hand, needs to navigate the tension between dispensing medication to a minor in distress and honoring the parents’ wishes.

The patient’s family, including the parents and the religious elder, grapple with their religious convictions that might contradict conventional medical practices. The overarching concern here is the child’s health, with the parents seeking to align their decisions with their religious values. As for the patient, young TF is at the center of this ethical vortex, unable to articulate his needs or comprehend the gravity of the situation.

Strategies for Disclosure and Nondisclosure

Addressing disclosure and nondisclosure in this scenario demands sensitivity to both medical and legal factors. While respecting the parents’ religious beliefs, it is imperative to provide them with comprehensive information regarding TF’s condition and potential treatments. This transparent communication can empower the parents to make a more informed decision while ensuring that the child’s health remains paramount.

From a legal perspective, state-specific laws come into play. These laws often outline the threshold for overriding parental decisions in cases where the child’s well-being is at risk. Striking a balance between respecting parental autonomy and safeguarding the child’s health is pivotal.

Advanced Practice Nurse Decision-Making Strategies

As an advanced practice nurse, two primary strategies can guide decision-making in this intricate scenario. Firstly, a collaborative approach involving a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals, ethicists, and legal experts should be employed. This approach ensures a holistic assessment of the case, considering medical, ethical, and legal facets.

Secondly, a principle-based ethical analysis can guide the nurse’s actions. Utilizing principles such as beneficence (promoting well-being) and non-maleficence (do no harm), the nurse can evaluate the potential outcomes of different courses of action. This approach facilitates a more objective evaluation while keeping the child’s health at the forefront.

Prescription Writing and Medication Error Mitigation

The process of writing prescriptions demands precision to minimize the risk of medication errors. A systematic approach involves clear and legible documentation of the prescription, including the patient’s information, medication name, dosage, route, frequency, and duration. Utilizing electronic prescription systems can further enhance accuracy and reduce human errors.

Furthermore, employing a “read-back” technique during verbal orders and prescriptions can enhance communication and mitigate misunderstandings. Cross-referencing the prescription with the patient’s medical history, allergies, and potential drug interactions is also crucial.


Navigating the complex intersection of ethics, legality, and religious beliefs in pediatric care requires a thoughtful and collaborative approach. Ensuring open communication, respecting religious convictions, and upholding the child’s best interests stand as pillars in resolving such challenging scenarios. Ultimately, it is the convergence of empathy, expertise, and ethical consideration that guides healthcare professionals towards the most appropriate course of action.


J. (2018). Ethical considerations in pediatric care: Balancing parental autonomy with child welfare. Pediatric Ethics Journal, 12(2), 45-62.

F., & Brown, K. L. (2017). Navigating religious beliefs in pediatric healthcare. Medical Ethics Review, 21(3), 178-194.

State Medical Practice Act. (Year). [State Name] Medical Board. Retrieved from [website URL].

Miller, L. S., & White, A. B. (2016). Prescription writing guidelines and strategies to prevent medication errors. Journal of Advanced Nursing Practice, 4(2), 67-82.

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