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Opioid ‘misprescribing’ needs a ‘concerted response’ — Medical Council CEO

The problem of “opioid misprescribing” is among a number of issues that came to the Medical Council’s special attention during 2018, and demands a “concerted response”, according to its CEO.

In his foreword to the Council’s annual report for 2018, CEO Mr Bill Prasifka said the issue would require “a concerted response across the range of our activities and will be an important part of our work in the year ahead”.

Minutes of a meeting of the Council earlier this year show that President Dr Rita Doyle offered to provide a short presentation to the executive team, with guidance on the issue of prescribing of z-drugs and benzodiazepines and “problem-level prescribing at a glance”.

Asked for a comment, the Council said this presentation was for members of its professional standards team to assist them in their work. The regulator’s spokesperson added that it was working on this area with a number of stakeholders and would be issuing a statement in the near future. According to the annual report, there were 56 complaints against doctors in 2018 that related to prescribing, up from 45 in 2017.

In 2018, the number of complaints received against doctors was 396. In keeping with the pattern of recent years, the largest category of complaints was in relation to, or had elements of, communication issues, totalling 19 per cent of complaints.

Mr Prasifka commented: “Once again, in 2018, the number of complaints which related to communications issues has remained high. In response to this, the Medical Council are taking a number of actions to address the situation, such as ensuring communication becomes mandatory as part of a doctor’s continuous professional development.”

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