Hot topic: Prescribing for friends and family

August 2015

Prescribing for friends and familySarah Browne is a Consultant Paediatrician and has a daughter, Sophie, who is 19 years old. The family were recently on holiday in Cornwall when Sophie cut her foot whilst walking on the beach. A few days later, her foot was painful and clearly infected. As they were away from the family GP, Dr Browne decided to treat Sophie herself and prescribed antibiotics.

Dr Browne knew that Sophie was allergic to penicillin and so prescribed another appropriate antibiotic. What she didn’t know however, was that her daughter had been depressed and taking anti-depressants for the past six months. She was also on the pill. Sophie hadn’t discussed either of these with her mother and didn’t mention them when she examined her yesterday as she didn’t think it was relevant and felt uncomfortable having such a conversation at that point.

We understand this situation can be complicated

Although Dr Browne was just trying to help her daughter, and believed that it was a straightforward diagnosis - by prescribing antibiotics without the knowledge that Sophie was also on antidepressants and the pill, she put her daughter at risk as the various drugs could have interacted. If Sophie had instead gone to another GP, they would have asked all of the necessary questions and could have accessed her medical record, to understand her history and provide her with the appropriate medication. Sophie may also have felt more comfortable discussing the other medication that she is on with the GP.

This example combines some of the typical dangers that can arise through prescribing for your friends or family. While there may be some rare occasions where prescribing for someone close to you is unavoidable, it is important to remember that despite best intentions, there can be some serious repercussions. Former Communitybaptistpa Clinical Fellow Dr Achyut Valluri shares his thoughts on .

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