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Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Doctors sometimes say 'No'

The BBC Health website has published a 'Viewpoint' by Dr James Armstrong of the Medical Defence Union.

The article details the increasing involvement that patients have in treatment decisions and the obligation that doctors have to listen to their patients. However, the article also acknowledges that doctors are under no obligation to provide treatments that are not clinically appropriate.

In such a situation it is recommended that alternative approaches are discussed and that the patient is reminded that they can seek a second opinion.

Action: The contents of this article may be useful in supporting a clinical decision to not provide a treatment and could even be adapted to form a leaflet.

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3 Comments to “Doctors sometimes say 'No'”

  1. In my country most patients pay to see the GP. Most of these patients would not be happy to leave the surgery without a presciption and most GP's would be afraid to say No!

    Comment by Declan O'Sullivan — July 27, 2009 #

    1. Declan,

      In Britain, healthcare is free at the point of access via the NHS. Sadly, we get quite a high proportion of missed appointments that some argue would reduce dramatically if patients paid for the appointment. I suspect that in your country people see a GP when the really need to knowing that they are paying for it at the time.

      Comment by Matthew Robinson — July 27, 2009 #

  2. The BBC article says:
    "In days gone by, there was a perception that doctors knew best and had the final say - but things have changed and patients are increasingly instrumental in decisions about their care."

    As a patient, I think that's the way it should be. If something is going to be done to my body, both I and the doctor should have the right to say no. I certainly should have the right to refuse treatment, and the doctor also should have the right to refuse a treatment she feels is not appropriate.

    Comment by Jim Purdy — July 26, 2009 #

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