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Online GP firms deemed unsafe to prescribe drugs by inspectors
- Clinical Negligence
Almost half of online GP firms were deemed unsafe by not providing safe care to patients.
The 35 online GP companies in England have been under investigation over the past 18 months by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Thirteen of the online GP firms were found to be in breach of safety standards and five stopped trading altogether.
The CQC found that antibiotics were handed out too easily, there was a lack of checks when handing out drugs to potentially pregnant women and prescribing drugs when patients should have been referred for an assessment.
This investigation comes a year after the same regulator warned people should be wary of buying medications on the internet after an investigation found "widespread failings" at some online providers.
Hannah Bottomley, clinical negligence solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:
It is worrying to read that online GP practices have found to be unsafe in such high numbers. Undoubtedly there will be a place for such services to offer support to patients with busy lives who simply are unable to get to see their GP in person, however, those services must be provided in a safe and effective manner.
Incorrectly over-prescribing antibiotics and painkillers may not sound too worrying but a failure to carry out adequate checks regarding prescription medication in terms of pregnancy and contraindications can lead to very serious health complications.
In a different setting, I have dealt with an individual who was prescribed a steroid which was in fact contraindicated for his condition. The steroid itself may have been harmless for the vast majority of patients but due to his condition it resulted in a serious collapse and permanent damage.
This is something which I would be very concerned could happen if the appropriate checks are not being done by as many as four out of 10 of these online GP services. I hope this review is a wake-up call for the industry before anyone suffers serious and permanent harm.
Hannah Bottomley is a clinical negligence solicitor here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about clinical negligence issues or indeed any other aspect of this article and wish to speak to Hannah or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Hannah directly.