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Prescription direction

Background

Dr Williams is a GP in a private practice. Her employer has recently bought a local pharmacy.

The scenario

Dr Williams has been told to encourage her patients to take their prescriptions there as they will get better service and faster processing times.

What the doctor did

Dr Williams decided to prioritise the interests of her patients and reminded her employer of her professional responsibilities.

She realised that directing patients to a pharmacy owned by her employer without being honest about this relationship would likely be, or be perceived to be, a conflict of interest. This could damage her patients’ trust in her and in the GP practice.

She decided to make sure her patients understood that they can choose where to get their prescription from. Where patients had repeat prescriptions, Dr Williams continued to check with patients that they were happy with their nominated pharmacy, and would advise about a range of options if needed.

Dr Williams decided that if any of her patients asked her about that particular pharmacy, she would be open and honest about her employer’s interest in it.

Dr Williams thought about whether her patients may think that her employers were influencing her judgement as they had a financial interest in the pharmacy.

She knew she must always put the interests of her patients before her own or her employer’s interests, and that she must ensure her professional judgement was not compromised.

She was aware that her patients could choose freely which pharmacy dispenses their prescriptions and so she decided it wouldn’t be appropriate to make recommendations.

What the doctor had to consider