After graduating from a PA program in 2007 a peculiar thing happened. Everyone wanted a prescription. Parents, siblings, spouses, neighbors, the garbage man….they all seemed to think that I could help them out.
“I just need an antibiotic!”, they say. “I’ve been coughing for a week!,” they say. “I know its a sinus infection!”, they say.
Well, all you new grads, don’t do it! When you are just out of school, the power of prescribing can be intoxicating. You feel on top of the world and the fact that the garbage man recognizes your newly minted place in society is pretty cool. But there are so many pitfalls.
1) You might lose your license.
2) Setting a precedence with friends and family that you are a go to person for desired prescriptions can create awkward and tense moments when you finally say no.
3) What if you are wrong? What if you give someone an antibiotic for a suspected sinus infection and they actually have an infection burrowing though their sinus into their brain? You don’t want that on your conscience.
4) Did you check their chart for any drug allergies? Didn’t think so.
5) In fact, did you check their chart for anything? Past medical history is kind of important to know before starting any new prescriptions. What other meds are they on? Oh, the neighbor forgot to tell you they were on coumadin and now you just contributed to internal bleeding. Ouch!
There are times when I have been flexible about prescribing to people that are not my patients. And I have had colleagues help out when I developed very classic signs of a UTI. These instances are few and far between, and every time I weigh my risks. I once prescribed a stronger steroid cream to a PA friend of mine at work, who actually showed me the rash first. She begged and I caved…but believe me, the decision wasn’t taken lightly. But, I strongly encourage new grads to steer clear of this as you are new to the field. You need a little more experience before you consider prescribing outside the clinic setting.
How are other people handling this issue? Do you help out or do you have a strict policy against it? Let me know in the comments section!