Working with doctors Working for patients

Prescribing guidance: Need and objectivity

14. You should prescribe medicines only if you have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health and you are satisfied that they serve the patient’s needs.

15. In Consent: patients and doctors making decisions together,5 we say:

5d. If a patient asks for a treatment that the doctor considers would not be of overall benefit to them, the doctor should discuss the issues with the patient and explore the reasons for their request. If, after discussion, the doctor still considers that the treatment would not be of overall benefit to the patient, they do not have to provide the treatment. But they should explain their reasons to the patient, and explain any other options that are available, including the option to seek a second opinion.

16. You must not prescribe medicines for your own convenience or the convenience of other health or social care professionals (for example, those caring for patients with dementia in care homes6).

Prescribing for yourself or those close to you

17. Wherever possible you must avoid prescribing for yourself or anyone with whom you have a close personal relationship.

18. Controlled medicines present particular dangers, occasionally associated with drug misuse, addiction and misconduct. You must not prescribe a controlled medicine for yourself or someone close to you unless:

a. no other person with the legal right to prescribe is available to assess and prescribe without a delay which would put your, or the patient’s, life or health at risk or cause unacceptable pain or distress, and

b. the treatment is immediately necessary to:

i. save a life

ii. avoid serious deterioration in health, or

iii. alleviate otherwise uncontrollable pain or distress.

19. If you prescribe for yourself or someone close to you, you must:

a. make a clear record at the same time or as soon as possible afterwards. The record should include your relationship to the patient (where relevant) and the reason it was necessary for you to prescribe.

b. tell your own or the patient’s general practitioner (and others treating you or the patient, where relevant) what medicines you have prescribed and any other information necessary for continuing care, unless (in the case of prescribing for somebody close to you) they object.