In an emergency, the pharmacist may write prescriptions

Taking medicines with strong effects, so called RX category – is often associated with the risk of dangerous side effects. Therefore, these types of medicines are available at a pharmacy – seemingly – only upon presentation of a prescription issued by a doctor. It turns out, however, that in situations threatening patient’s health or life, a pharmacist can also write a prescription.
Such right, although little known and rarely used in reality, is regulated by law. Its basis is Article 96.3 of the Pharmaceutical Law, which states: “in the event of an emergency threat to the patient’s life, a pharmacist with the right to practice may dispense without a medical prescription a medicinal product reserved for prescription in the smallest therapeutic package, excluding narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors of category 1” and Article 96(4), according to which, in the event of an emergency threat to the patient’s health, a pharmacist with the right to practice may issue a pharmaceutical prescription to which the rules indicated in the provision apply.
Despite the fact that the first standard does not indicate the possibility of a pharmacist writing a prescription, it is doctrinally accepted that in both situations such a prescription should be issued. On the basis of these regulations not only a pharmacist, but also any pharmacist listed in the central register of pharmacists is an entity competent to use the rights provided for therein. However, the competence of a pharmacist to dispense an RX drug and to write a prescription for such a drug are not the competences, which under the Act do not experience any limitations.
The prerequisite for the pharmacist to exercise his authority to dispense an RX-class medicine without a doctor’s prescription is the patient’s life-threatening emergency, whereas the pharmacist obtains the authority to write the prescription himself when the patient’s health is threatened. However, none of the regulations gives any indication what situations should be qualified as threatening patient’s life or health, which forces pharmacists to make an independent assessment when confronted with a specific situation in reality – notes Katarzyna Wojciechowska, a lawyer from Duraj Reck and Partners.
However, pharmacists rarely use their powers in this regard. It is the fear of potential consequences of incorrect assessment of the situation and issuing a prescription despite the lack of premises listed in the law. Such cases are controlled by the Pharmaceutical Inspectorate, which examines whether the prescription was formally correct and whether it was legitimate. – However, the risk of exposure to liability in this case should not result in pharmacists avoiding using their statutory rights, because they are obliged to treat the protection of patients’ health and life as a priority – claims Daniel Reck.
The key goal of granting such rights to pharmacists is to provide care to patients who cannot use medical assistance in emergency situations and their health or life is threatened. However, more courage is needed from pharmacists in order to properly carry out the tasks incumbent on the health service, especially nowadays, when access to a doctor is very often very limited.

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