Makomed's Weblog

Patients Who Self-Prescribe

Posted on: May 10, 2005

A patient here at the University came up to the front desk asking for meds for her depression, possibly Prozac or Wellbutrin.

I asked her, “has the doctor ever given you these medications before?”

“No.”

“When was the last time you were seen by this doctor?”

“Way back in November [almost a year ago].”

“Has she ever discussed depression with you before, or ever?”

“Never.”

I explained to her that writing a prescription on the patient’s whim without ever having been seen by this particular doctor for this particular complaint was illegal and foolish.

She reacted predictably by showing frustration over how long it would take to make an appointment and the hassle it would ensue.

I went to the doctor for her opinion and she agreed with me. She believed that if she did not see this patient and carelessly wrote her a prescription without a proper interview, that the patient may be suicidal and end up overdosing on the pills.

I walked back to the front desk and once again affirmed my belief that she should make an appointment to be seen, just like everybody else.

Although it is true that our clinic is so bogged down with patients that a routine appointment can take as much as two weeks to a month, patient safety and legal issues still rule supreme in our practice.

The woman should have known this. She is, after all, a nurse.

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