Ethical Dilemma in Nursing Practitioners Treating Family Members

Best practice for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) worldwide

Best practice for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) worldwide stipulates that NPs should not treat themselves, family members, or friends, and that if circumstances require them, they should use the same criteria and caution as they would with non-family members (Buppert, 2015). The responsibilities that come with the NP's contact with the family member are one of the reasons why NPs are discouraged from treating family members. Because of the emotional connection that exists between them, NPs' boundaries with patients are generally breached when treating a family member (Anyanwu, Abedi, & Onohwakpor, 2014). NPs have an obligation to operate within the scope of practice with their license and education, and without a prior license to practice, NPs are not allowed to prescribe medication. While administering any medication, the NPs need to take the same precautions with all patients; recognizing any interactions and side effects together with a sound knowledge of the correction application and dosage of the drug (Fairman, Rowe, Hassmiller & Shalala, 2015).

In this case, Mrs. ABC's sore throat

In this case, Mrs. ABC has until 6 pm to seek medication for a sore throat. She uses an excuse of not being able to section an appointment with her physician to go to her mother's office for antibiotics. It is evident that the mother who is a nursing practitioner did not operate with the scope of nursing practice. After the rapid test for strep turns negative results, her mother gave her antibiotics anyway. The strep test is later confirmed negative by a DNA probe. The ethical dilemma, in this case, is that, if the mother does provide the antibiotics as requested by daughter then her daughter may think that her mother does not care for her. On the other hand, there are rules that the mother has to abide by when providing care to all patients including the daughter (Buppert, 2015).

Legal considerations in Mississippi

According to Mississippi board of nursing, it is legal for NPs to provide direct care, offering nursing assistance, delegating, assigning, and supervising the care of patients including immediate family, friends, or workmates. Therefore, the mother's act of offering to treat her daughter was within the law that governs NPs in Mississippi. However, the mother did not follow the scope of practice during the act of offering medication as she gave her daughter antibiotics even though the rapid test on strep returned negative results.


Anyanwu, E. B., Abedi, H. O., & Onohwakpor, E. A. (2014). Ethical Issues in Treating Self and Family Members. American Journal of Public Health Research, 2(3), 99-102.

Buppert, C. (2015). Resolving ethical dilemmas. In Nurse Practitioner’s Business Practice and Legal Guide (5th ed.) (479 - 487). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Fairman, J. A., Rowe, J. W., Hassmiller, S., & Shalala, D. E. (2015). Broadening the scope of nursing practice. New England Journal of Medicine, 364(3), 193-196.

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