Date of this Version

January 2005

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

This article is published with the permission of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Access Australian Family Physician online. Permission to reproduce this article must obtained from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Copyright © 2005 Australian Family Physician. All rights reserved.


OBJECTIVE To consider the issue of legislation restricting self prescribing by doctors.

METHOD Searches of the medical literature in Medline, Australian Medical Index and CINAHL using the terms ‘medical’, ‘legislation’ and ‘physician impairment’from 1966–2003 supplemented by checking citations of review papers.

RESULTS We found 144 articles, although no trials of legislation. The remaining research was inadequate to answer the question of whether restricting self prescribing reduces doctor impairment. However, descriptive studies suggest that impairment attributed to self prescribing is most often from self administration, which is not altered by legislation to restrict self prescribing.

DISCUSSION There are important theoretical adverse consequences of legislation that restrict self prescribing. Apparently self evident legislation may be counter productive. The need for doctors to have an independent general practitioner is reinforced.



This document has been peer reviewed.