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When prescribing for a colleague, document
Treat as any other ED visit
by Stacey Kusterbeck, Contributing Editor
Writing prescriptions for colleagues or their family members is done commonly by some ED physicians, but this carries significant legal risks, warns Sue Dill, RN, MSN, JD, director of hospital risk management for Columbus, OH-based OHIC Insurance Company. The bottom line is that a physician should not write a prescription for someone he or she has not seen, such as the child of another physician or a nurse, says Dill.
If a physician writes out a prescription for someone he or she does see, they need to create a medical record, says Dill. "Even if they do this as a courtesy and are not charging the colleague, the physician should do an assessment like any other patient," she says.
In addition, every request for a prescription should require signing into the ED for a record of care provided, adds Dill. "There should be adequate documentation like that you would find for any other patient," she says.
Every request for a prescription should be treated the same as any other ED visit, advises Larry D. Weiss, MD, JD, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and vice president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine.
"Anecdotally, I am personally aware of a case where a paramedic delivered a case to the ED. The medic then asked the ED physician to refill his Zantac prescription," says Weiss. "He had a myocardial infarction later that night and sued the ED physician. Outrageous but true."