This series highlights common medicolegal issues in general practice. Written by a team from medical defence organisation Avant, the series is based on actual situations, with details changed for privacy, and some issues summarised for discussion. This scenario is based on a reported decision of the Medical Council of New Zealand that highlights the risks of professional compromise when doctors prescribe for themselves.
Self-prescribing can threaten the health and wellbeing of doctors and their patients. Legislation prohibits it in some cases, and professional codes of conduct have long warned against it. The most recent version of the Medical Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct is even more explicit than previous versions: good medical practice involves not self-prescribing (Table 1).1 Yet, as a recent New Zealand decision illustrates, the temptation to write themselves a prescription continues to catch doctors out.2