Doctors and other health practitioners usually present self-prescriptions to pharmacists and it is the duty of the pharmacist to make a judgment call whether or not to dispense the medicines.
A prescription that has been self-prescribed by a prescriber may fulfill the usual legal requirements but pharmacists should consider that it is generally considered poor practice to self-prescribe. This is because the professional judgment of the prescriber may be impaired when self-prescribing and also it may not be possible for a prescriber to conduct a proper clinical assessment on himself/herself.
The General Medical Council advices within the ‘general medical practice’ that doctors should not treat themselves and, wherever possible, should avoid providing medical care to anyone with whom they have a close personal relationship.
Similarly, the Nursing and Midwifery Council advices within the document Standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers’ that nurses and midwives must not prescribe for themselves and, other than in exceptional circumstances should not prescribe for anyone with whom they have a close personal or emotional relationship.
Opiods and benzodiazepines are the most commonly self-prescribed substances and are particularly associated with drug misuse, addiction and misconduct. Controlled medicines can only be
self-prescribed or prescribed to someone close to the prescriber in order to save a life, avoid serious deterioration in health, or alleviate ‘otherwise uncontrolled pain or distress’. Therefore, the potential of abuse of the prescribed drugs should be considered before dispensing.
However in an emergency, after exercising professional judgment, a pharmacist may decide it is appropriate to dispense medicine that has been self-prescribed.
BY ACHEI BERYL GESARE.