Articles in this series highlight common medicolegal issues in general practice. Written by the claims and advocacy team at medical defence organisation Avant, the series is based on actual cases, with some details changed for privacy. The case of a GP whose de facto partner died after being treated by the GP for severe headaches illustrates some of the risks of treating individuals with whom you have a close personal relationship.
As a medical practitioner, you may be asked for your medical opinion or a prescription by a family member, friend or someone you work with. It may be difficult to refuse. However, if a doctor writes even a one-off prescription or referral for such a person then an inherent conflict of interest arises between the doctor-patient therapeutic relationship and the doctor’s personal relationship with the person.