Sunday, November 6, 2011

Is it Okay for Physicians to Prescribe Medication to their Family and Friends?

Before the ink is even dry on your medical school diploma, you have family and friends asking you for medical advice and asking you to write a prescription.  But I have often wondered, is it okay to write a prescription for a friend or family member?  According to the Texas Medical Board, it is not illegal to do so, but physicians must be aware that doing so poses some risks.  In a recent article, they caution that friends and family must be treated like any other patient, and an adequate history and medical assessment must be obtained.  They also caution that it would be a good idea to maintain medical records on these individuals and your interactions with them.  In addition, the Texas Medical Association Board of Councilors advised that it is ethical to treat family and friends.  They also believe that medical records should be maintained, but they do note that in “urgent or episodic situations” that it may not be practical to do so.
            There is one important caveat however.  The Texas Medical Board absolutely prohibits physicians from writing prescriptions for controlled substances (e.g., narcotics) to family, friends or even themselves unless there is an emergency situation.  Physicians can prescribe a small amount of controlled substances for a 72 hour period in emergency.
            So if you are a physician in Texas, it is okay to prescribe medication to family and friends, but be aware of the possible need of maintaining medical records and be extremely cautious about prescribing controlled substances to family and friends (better yet, don’t do it at all).

Conde, C., Treating Your Own:  It’s Legal, But It Can Be Risky, Texas Medicine (October 2011).


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