A sobering tale of my recent experience may give you pause for thought. My son became ill with an acute infection in a regional airport so I prescribed some antibiotics on an FP10.
The airport pharmacist took exception to this and made a complaint of prescription fraud for using an FP10 for a family member. The PCT roared 'hang him', it would seem, as it passed the matter to GMC without a word to me.
It is a chilling experience receiving the 'private and confidential' letter from the GMC. It reads in a sterile non-judgemental way that you have had a complaint made against you.
You are given a month to respond before the matter is referred to the case assessors, having been asked for your employer's details. You are given a booklet in a funereal purple about the process as your career may be entering death row.
What follows can only be described as purgatory. Innocent or guilty, months can pass while you are allowed to ruminate in silent frustration waiting for a judgment of Solomon.
This was punctuated by a letter from the GMC mentioning that it would ask the PCT for any other information it may wish to bring against you, presumably to take it into consideration.
While a defence union can represent you, the criminal justice system would usually only try to charge you with the complaint in hand. Not so for the GMC and you travel a cold, lonely and stressful path.
We pay significant subscriptions for an organisation that exists to protect patients and 'guide doctors'. With 'guidance', do not expect support under these circumstances.
The case concluded with no further action as my son was a patient on my list and I was treating an emergency before boarding a plane without any other easy option available. This situation was fully defensible.
If you prescribe for yourself, anyone close to you privately or on an FP10, other than in an emergency, you may be breach of GMC guidance.
If you issue an FP10 to anyone not registered on your practice list, you are in breach of GMC guidance and also potentially guilty of prescription fraud.
Next time you reach for the prescription pad for a friend or family, consider that your registration may be one complaint away from serious censure.
I was reassured to learn that most GP families are comparatively free of illness requiring prescription drugs. A logical conclusion in that few of my colleagues recall often seeing other GP families for consultation.
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