Generaleneral Psychologysychology


Give the procedure and results of the Hofling et al.'s Astroten study.

Would a nurse intentionally do serious harm to a patient if a doctor ordered her to? Hofling et al. (1966) had a nurse receive a phone call from a "doctor" she had not met. He told the nurse to administer 20 mg. of a drug call "Astroten." The "doctor's" order violated several rules: 1) it was against hospital policy to take prescriptions over the phone and 2) "Astroten" was not on the approved ward list. That is, the drug had not been cleared for use in any circumstances. In addition, the nurse was aware that the maximum daily dose of "Astroten" was 10 mg. Thus, she knew that she was being asked to give the patient an overdose.

Twenty-one of twenty-two nurses started to give the medication before they were stopped by a staff psychiatrist. After the investigation, the nurses indicated that such orders had been given in the past and that doctors became annoyed if the nurses balked at their orders.

A similar group of nurses had the procedure of the "Astroten" study described to them. Ten out of twelve said that they would refuse to follow the doctors orders.
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