Principle One

Put patient's interests first

 

Principle Two

Communicate effectively with patients

 

Principle Three

Obtain valid consent

 

Principle Four

Maintain and protect patients' information

 

Principle Five

Have a clear and effective complaints procedure

 

Principle Six

Work with colleagues in a way that is in patients' best interests

 

Principle Seven

Maintain, develop and work within your professional knowledge and skills

 

Principle Eight

Raise concerns if patients are at risk

 

Principle Nine

Make sure your personal behaviour maintains patients' confidence in you and the dental profession

 

Learning Material Case Study

Prescribing medicines Prescribing medicines

​Mr Parekh is a dentist working in private practice in London. His parents live abroad but regularly come to visit.

Towards the end of the one of these trips, his mother, a diabetic, ran out of medication. Mr Parekh, having basic knowledge of his mother’s medical history and of the drugs she took, wrote a private prescription ensuring she had enough medication to last until the end of her visit.

The pharmacist dispensed the medication, but was concerned that Mr Parekh was prescribing medication for a non-dental condition and issuing a prescription for his mother. She decided to raise these concerns with the GDC.

The fitness to practise caseworker considered that Mr Parekh may have breached a number of standards and guidance in Standards for the Dental Team including (but not limited to):

  • 7.2 You must work within your knowledge, skills, professional competence and abilities.
  • 7.2.1 You must only carry out a task or type of treatment if you are appropriately trained, competent, confident and indemnified. Training can take many different forms. You must be sure that you have undertaken training which is appropriate for you and equips you with the appropriate knowledge and skills to perform a task safely.

The caseworker also thought that Mr Parekh had breached the guidance on prescribing medicines.

The Investigating Committee having looked into the details of this case, recognised it was inappropriate for Mr Parekh to write a prescription for diabetes medication for his mother. However, in his defence Mr Parekh stated that whilst he was not a medical doctor, he did have an understanding of his mother’s medical condition and understood what the medication he prescribed was for.

Mr Parekh also stated that he was putting his patient's interests first by providing his mother with medication that she needed to manage her medical condition, as otherwise she may have become seriously ill. Mr Parekh acknowledged that it may have not been appropriate to issue a prescription, but it was an emergency, the prescription was only for a weeks supply, by which point his parents would have arrived back home, and his mother would have had the opportunity to visit her own doctor.

The Investigating Committee thought that Mr Parekh’s conduct was inappropriate as he prescribed medication for diabetes, a condition which he did not fully understand and he had prescribed medication for his mother. However, the committee also understood that the medication was prescribed in an urgent situation and Mr Parekh’s mother understood that she should visit her doctor for a review once she arrived back home. Mr Parekh was issued with a warning letter.

There were valid reasons why Mr Parekh wrote a prescription for his mother. However when prescribing medicines you must have an understanding of your patient’s current health and medication, including any relevant medical history, in order to prescribe safely. If you face a situation where a patient requires urgent medication for a non-dental condition, then you should try to speak to the patient's GP or another doctor, to clarify any queries and make sure any prescription you issue is safe for the patient and does not compromise their health.

You should also understand that prescribing medicines for someone with whom you have a close personal relationship, e.g. a family member, may make it difficult for you to be objective when assessing their need for medication and you should not prescribe for them unless it is an emergency. You may inadvertently be overlooking serious health problems, potentially interfering with other treatments they may be undergoing or encouraging addiction.

Our Guidance on prescribing medicines provides further advice.