Patients have the right to respectful care that promotes their dignity, privacy and safety. Patients with problematic use of prescription drugs and those who use illicit drugs have the same entitlement to respectful care.
The decision to prescribe drugs of dependence, like other aspects of clinical practice, should be made with the patient. Shared decision making brings together the GP’s clinical expertise and judgement and the patient’s values and preferences (which are informed by their beliefs and their personal circumstances such as their age, family and social relationships). Patient-focused care is not equivalent to care dictated by the patient – boundaries and clinical judgement are key components of high-quality care.
To facilitate patients (and their carers) to participate in shared decision making:
- General practices and GPs should provide patients with information (at the appropriate level and manner) about the purpose, realistic expectations, options, and benefits and risks of any treatments.
- GPs may wish to consider using patient information resources to help patients understand their options and the consequences of their decisions.
- GPs should develop respectful, non-judgemental and clear responses to inappropriate requests for drugs of dependence.