Case Study - Patients Abroad
London has one of the most diverse patient populations in the country, and as with many urban practices, serves a multitude of ethnicities. As with any population, there will be a proportion of patients living with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, but who live abroad for half the year or more. This is something GPs need to pay close attention to.
I have come across patients who, as a result of frequent travel abroad, have been prescribed medications for extensively long periods of time. As a result their reviews have been pushed further and further back, which causes concern when they ask for repeat prescriptions without a review.
This type of request can put locum GPs in particular, in a difficult position. It is essential that we adhere to best practice, as we are a vulnerable group. Some patients may have done this for years but it is important that they receive the same standard of care as others. We should be cautious of prescribing medication for longer than three months at a time, and for chronic disease patients, be absolutely sure a six-monthly or annual medication review is built-in. Furthermore, it is important to make sure the patient has access to a GP who can perform regular reviews during or after their travel abroad.
As a locum, it is also important to be aware of what your medical indemnity covers you for. If you are unsure, check with your indemnity provider to clarify what liability you are covered for. Patient safety is always a doctor’s top priority but make sure not to overlook yours in the process.
Dr. Ishani Patel
MBBS BSc MRCGP DCH DRCOG
E-learning CPD Fellow, RCGP
Associate GP, Cancer Commissioning Team - North West & South London
Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS), Public Health England