Prescribing for patients overseas

Background 

Arthur, a 73-year old retired man, is going to Spain to stay with relatives for three months. He visits his GP, Dr Jones, and asks for an extra prescription of Clopidogrel to make sure he has enough medication to prevent another stroke while he’s abroad.

Dr Jones thinks this is a sensible idea and explains the importance of Arthur taking his medication regularly. She prescribes the additional supply of medication to be dispensed at Arthur’s local pharmacy. She also completes forms for Arthur’s travel and health insurance.

Scenario

A fortnight later, Dr Jones receives a phone call from Arthur who is sitting by the pool in his holiday apartment. He explains that his luggage was lost during the flight and he no longer has access to the medication he needs. He is concerned that without the medication he is at higher risk of a further stroke.

He asks Dr Jones if she can organise a new prescription to a pharmacy in Spain.

What should the doctor do? 

  • Tell Arthur to book the next flight home before he becomes unwell.
  • Issue a new prescription to replace the lost medication to be dispensed in Spain as soon as possible.
  • Tell Arthur to seek local medical advice.

What the doctor did

Dr Jones tells Arthur to seek local medical advice.

What the doctor had to consider

  • Is she able to adequately assess Arthur’s condition remotely without a physical examination or other tests? 
  • Does she have adequate insurance and indemnity to cover prescribing for patients in Spain?
  • Does she need to register with a medical regulator based in Spain to treat patients there and how can she comply with rules for dispensing medication overseas?
  • Can Arthur access medical care locally?