Self prescribing is now illegal and may cost you $16k, doctors warned


By Tessa Hoffman

26 Apr 2018

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

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