Nurse practitioner wonders why she can't prescribe controlled substances to her mom

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The DEA is not going to be happy about this.

Nurse practitioner wonders why she can't prescribe controlled substances to her mom
Forbes / Bloomberg News

There are things that need to be formally taught in school, and there are things that fall into the realm of basic fucking common sense. The scenario posed above by Oklahoma-based midlevel nurse practitioner Charity Rosenthal wondering why she can't prescribe Ambien, a federally controlled substance on DEA schedule IV, to good old Mom falls squarely into the latter category. One would assume that the elemental concept of not prescribing controlled substances to yourself, family members, or friends goes without saying, but obviously, you can't assume anything about midlevels these days, no matter how basic. While state laws do vary regarding the exact nuances of self-prescribing, we're not sure any physicians have graduated from medical school without having the idea drilled into them that self-prescribing medications - especially controlled substances - is A VERY BAD IDEA™ for multiple reasons, including violation of medical ethics, inability to maintain professional judgment / compromised medical decision-making, risk for diversion, etc. And while self-prescribing may not technically be illegal in all circumstances, state medical boards tend to take a very dim view of it, especially if they find out.

Had Ms. Rosenthal bothered to perform a cursory Google search first instead of being told off by a pharmacy tech and subsequently outsourcing her legal query to other clueless nurse practitioners on Facebook, she would have found § 475:30-1-3 - "Purpose of issuance of prescriptions" in the Oklahoma Administrative Code.

She might also have come across this excellent article by the Oklahoma Medical Board, which similarly states:

Needless to say, there's no reason to presume that nurse practitioners would be treated any differently than physicians under the law in Oklahoma, which is not a full practice authority state for NPs.


Additionally, this post also serves as a very eye-opening glimpse into the quality, or lack thereof, of clinical education and appropriate role-modeling in nurse practitioner school. NP Rosenthal herself admits that "I have never read this" and that "during my clinical rotation the NP I did most of my clinicals with prescribed Testosterone and other controlled meds to her 1st degree relative." It should be noted that testosterone is a federally controlled substance as well on DEA schedule III, and in any case, it sounds like NP Rosenthal's preceptor needs to be immediately investigated for a likely violation of multiple state and/or federal drug laws. If this is the kind of piss-poor pharmacy, ethics, and professionalism education that nurse practitioners are receiving in school, how can anyone trust them to prescribe safely and appropriately when it comes to real, live patients?