Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Prescribing For Friends

It's inevitable. As a doctor, you'll be sitting there minding your own business when a hospital staff, friend, or family will sheepishly approach you and ask, "Do you mind if you fill out a prescription for me?" It's always an awkward moment for me. Since I have a medical license number, I can easily make a prescription without much fuss. But should I?

Now I would never fill a prescription for any narcotics, something that would immediately send up a red flag to the DEA and the state medical board. However people have asked me to prescribe drugs as diverse as antibiotics, NSAIDs, and antireflux medications. Should I be doing this? Hard to say. The meds I have prescribed are pretty benign. And the requester is usually somebody I already know and not just some stranger walking into the hospital. Still, I feel a twinge of guilt every time I put my signature down on a prescription pad for somebody who isn't a formal patient. But if I don't, I feel guilty for turning down a seemingly simple and innocuous request from a family or acquaintance. How can I refuse somebody who maybe coming to me with an ear infection and asking for some antibiotics? Isn't that an act of compassion? Is my trepidation of writing a prescription due to real concerns about the possible side effects the antibiotics may cause or is it just fear of the possible consequences from the medicolegal system? Should I just flat out refuse everybody a prescription request and risk their ire and disappointment? There doesn't appear to be any good answers for this common dilemma.

1 comment:

  1. I work with a lot of docs, and I have *never* asked for this. I feel it's an inappropriate abuse of our professional and/or personal (but not doctor/patient) relationship. Drives my wife crazy, since I'm not always good about going to my own doctor when I should (like this week).

    Also, according to, adults (and children over 2) should get pain control and observation before prescribing antibiotics anyway.