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JAMA Revisited
October 10, 2017

Medicolegal: Illegal Prescribing of Intoxicating Liquor

JAMA. 2017;318(14):1398. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.10490

(City of Seattle vs. Hewetson (Wash.), 164 Pac. R. 234)

The Supreme Court of Washington affirms a conviction of the defendant, a licensed physician, who was charged with having issued a prescription for whisky, without having any good reason to believe that the person to whom it was issued was actually sick, or that the liquor was required as medicine.

The court says that the evidence showed that the defendant had an office in the back part of a room occupied by a drug store. That the office could be entered by a door from the portion of the building used for the drug store. That on the evening of Feb. 19, 1916, the complaining witness went to the defendant for the purpose of getting a prescription for liquor. That he entered through the drug store, found seven or eight persons standing in line, waiting for similar prescriptions, and, when his turn came, said to the defendant that he had a cold, or a bad cold. That thereupon the defendant inquired of him if he would like a little stimulant, to which he replied, “Yes.” That before receiving the prescription he was required to sign a statement as follows: “I, the undersigned, do declare that the prescription written for me by Dr. J. W. Hewetson for intoxicating liquor, on this date is for medical purposes; that I am sick and in need of medicine, and will take the same according to directions. Dated this 19th day of February, 1916. M. W. Palmer, 135 N. 75th St.” That there was no examination of the complaining witness as to his physical condition. The evidence further showed that the record book and the prescription file at the drug store disclosed that, February 19, 164 prescriptions for liquor had been filled; February 18, 103; February 17, 105, and February 16, 83—and that most of these prescriptions had been written by the defendant.

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