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April 28, 1999

Self-prescribing by Physicians

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(16):1488-1490. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-16-jbk0428

To the Editor: I agree with Dr Christie and colleagues1 that self-prescribing antibiotics may be a problem and actually have potential negative health effects for the physician/patient, given that antibiotics are overprescribed for patients even when the physician is not the patient.

However, I am concerned with the overall tone of the article, which almost conveys a sense of immorality on the part of the responsible physician with health problems. For example, if an experienced internist cannot look at a simple lipid profile and make a determination, based on what he or she knows of the patient's lifestyle and diet, whether medical therapy would be appropriate, then what business does he or she have seeing patients with this problem? If the physician has hyperlipidemia, what objectivity is lost in looking at a simple laboratory report?