Doctors who prescribe for themselves are not only ‘foolish’ but are breaking the law, a medical defence organisation is warning over Victoria’s tough approach to self treatment.
In a stern reminder, the Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPS) warns its members that in Victoria it is now illegal for doctors to self-prescribe S4 and S8 medicines under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulation 2017 (Vic) . Doctors who write themselves a script for a statin or antibiotic face maximum penalties of almost $16,000 in fines and even a criminal conviction.
“Whilst MIPS strongly maintains a stance that it is never acceptable to self-prescribe (and indeed if you do, you have a fool for a patient) for those practising in Victoria this is now essential information to understand and with which to comply,” the MDO advises in an article published on its website.
While the self-prescribing ban for doctors has been on the books in Victoria for some years, it has been re-emphasised in legislation introduced in 2017 which makes it a criminal offence.
Previously in Victoria, the Regulation did not make it a criminal offence to self prescribe before May 2017 but prior to that date a practitioner could most likely have been found guilty of professional misconduct by the (Medical) Board,” a spokesman for MIPS told the limbic.
“We wanted to make our members aware that it’s illegal and we didn’t think many would know about this law; it was not widely publicised at the time.”
The zero tolerance approach to self-prescribing in Victoria is more severe than legislation in other state and territory jurisdictions.
“This is a complex area and there are significant variations between states and territories. As a general rule, S8 self-prescription is not permitted except in a very limited set of emergency situations,” writes MDA National medico-legal adviser, Dr Julian Walter, in an article on the subject.
“Given the legal complexities in this area and the propensity for their revision, a sensible starting point for all practitioners is to avoid self-prescribing of S4 and S8 drugs.”
Self prescribing restrictions by jurisdiction:
|Jurisdiction||Self S4||Self S8|
|ACT||Not for restricted drugs||No self prescription|
|NSW||Not for restricted S4 drugs||No restriction but no prescribing “otherwise than for medical treatment”|
|NT||Restricted drugs in emergency only||Cannot self-prescribe S8|
|QLD||No restriction||No – no self administration unless genuine need and condition and supplied by other doctor|
|SA||No restriction||Not permitted unless verifiable emergency|
|TAS||No restriction||Not permitted|
|VIC||Not permitted||Not permitted|
|WA||Not for reportable poisons||Self prescribing drugs of addiction is an offence.|
Source: MDA National