42.1 The prescriptions you issue must be legible, dated, signed and must state your Medical Council registration number.
42.2 You must make sure that prescription pads and prescription-generating software are kept securely and are only accessible to those authorised to prescribe.
42.3 When prescribing medications, you must comply with the Misuse of Drugs legislation and other relevant regulations and/or guidelines.
42.4 If a telephone prescription is necessary, it must be given in accordance with the ‘Exemptions for Emergency Supply’ provisions set out in national regulations21. You must make a note of the call in the patient’s records and send a written prescription to the pharmacist within 72 hours.
42.5 As far as possible, you should make sure that any treatment, medication or therapy prescribed for a patient is safe, evidence-based and in the patient’s best interests. Where possible, when prescribing drugs avoid the use of brand names – unless there is a good reason for using them. You should be particularly careful when prescribing multiple medications in case the combination might cause adverse reactions and you should liaise with the pharmacy to clarify any issues or concerns you may have. You should take special care when prescribing for patients who may have an impaired ability to metabolise the medication prescribed. You should weigh up the potential benefits with the risks of adverse effects and interactions when deciding what to prescribe. You should review patients’ treatment regimes periodically.
42.6 You should keep up-to-date with developments in medication safety. You should seek independent, evidence-based sources of information on the benefits and risks associated with medicines before prescribing.
42.7 You must be aware of the dangers of drug dependency when prescribing benzodiazepines, opiates and other drugs with addictive potential. You should refer patients with drug dependencies to the appropriate drug treatment services and supports unless you have appropriate training, facilities and support yourself. You should not undertake treatment of opiate dependency unless you have been approved under the Methadone Treatment Protocol. You should safeguard patients with drug dependencies by taking reasonable steps to make sure that they are not inappropriately obtaining drugs from multiple sources. You can do this, for example, by liaising with drug treatment services, other doctors and pharmacists.
The Panel agreed that notwithstanding Consultant involvement in requesting prescriptions for patients, the doctor who actually signs the patient’s prescription is the person who would be ultimately responsible.