Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices

About this guidance


In Good medical practice (2013)1 we say:


General Medical Council (2013) Good medical practice London, General Medical Council

12. You must keep up to date with, and follow, the law, our guidance and other regulations relevant to your work.

14. You must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

16. In providing clinical care you must:

a. prescribe drugs or treatment, including repeat prescriptions, only when you have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health, and are satisfied that the drugs or treatment serve the patient’s needs.

b. provide effective treatments based on the best available evidence

f. check that the care or treatment you provide for each patient is compatible with any other treatments the patient is receiving, including (where possible) self-prescribed over-the-counter medications

18. You must make good use of the resources available to you.

19. Documents you make (including clinical records) to formally record your work must be clear, accurate and legible. You should
make records at the same time as the events you are recording or as soon as possible afterwards.

21. Clinical records should include:

a. relevant clinical findings

b. the decisions made and actions agreed, and who is making the decisions and agreeing the actions

c. the information given to patients

d. any drugs prescribed or other investigation or treatment

e. who is making the record and when.


This guidance provides more detailed advice on how to comply with these principles when prescribing and managing medicines and medical devices, including appliances.


You are responsible for the prescriptions you sign and your decisions and actions when you supply and administer medicines and devices or authorise or instruct others to do so. You must be prepared to explain and justify your decisions and actions when prescribing, administering and managing medicines.


'Prescribing' is used to describe many related activities, including supply of prescription only medicines, prescribing medicines, devices and dressings on the NHS and advising patients on the purchase of over the counter medicines and other remedies. It may also be used to describe written information provided for patients (information prescriptions) or advice given. While some of this guidance is particularly relevant to prescription only medicines, you should follow it in relation to the other activities you undertake, so far as it is relevant and applicable. This guidance applies to medical devices as well as to medicines.


To maintain your licence to practise, you must demonstrate, through the revalidation process, that you work in line with the principles and values set out in this guidance. Only serious or persistent failure to follow our guidance that poses a risk to patient safety or public trust in doctors will put your registration at risk.