Inappropriate Prescribing: Acting Ethically in Times of Crisis

As instances of inappropriate prescribing increase, the Federation of State Medical Boards issues a reminder about acting ethically.

We are all so very proud of clinicians who are stepping up their already intense efforts and giving their all to fight this pandemic. It is important that ethical prescribing continues to be part of these efforts.

Acting Too Quickly

Emergency situations can cause people to make decisions they wouldn’t normally, or act too quickly without giving enough consideration to the underlying ethics. For example, the Ohio medical community recently experienced a rash of physicians and dentists who prescribed inordinate amounts of medications for themselves and family members — medications that have shown promise in treating the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, these fraudulent prescriptions were caught by alert pharmacists and denied, but Ohio is not alone in this situation. At least seven states have experienced similar situations. Federal and state prosecutors are currently investigating these actions and individuals, which may result in revoked licenses, fines, and potentially jail time.

Joint Board Statement

As a result, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), along with the National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) have issued a joint statement discouraging this practice: “It is essential that the nation’s health care providers carefully follow established guidance and clinical evidence in making decisions regarding prescribing, and that patients with appropriate needs have access to approved medications.” They reiterate the ethical duty to put the patient’s needs first — which includes adhering to prescribing guidelines.