The scene

A third year medical student, who had only recently started his first clinical attachment, called the MDU advisory line to request assistance with a fitness to practise (FTP) hearing, following allegations that he had taken bloods from a fellow student without supervision.

The student explained that a few months prior, his housemate had needed blood taken for a routine test. The housemate's GP had given him forms to attend the practice for the practice nurse to perform the procedure, but rather than waiting to make an appointment he had asked his friend to take the blood instead with some equipment the student had brought home from his placement.

When the test results came back to the practice and there was no record in the clinical notes of any appointment with the practice nurse, the story unravelled and the university came to know of the incident.

The student had already attended an investigatory meeting at his university and had now received notification to attend an FTP panel hearing.

MDU advice

The MDU adviser explained that this type of activity was taken very seriously by medical schools and the GMC, as it raised concerns about acting beyond the limits of one's competency.

The MDU adviser drew the student's attention to guidance produced by the GMC and Medical Schools Council, Achieving good medical practice, which states that you must recognise and work within the limits of your competence.

As a medical student you should only treat patients or give medical advice when you are under the supervision of a registered healthcare practitioner, and you must not carry out procedures on friends or family.

The MDU adviser recommended that the student review the guidance and prepare a reflective statement for submission to the FTP hearing panel, making reference to the GMC's Good medical practice guidance which doctors are expected to follow.

As a medical student you should only treat patients or give medical advice when you are under the supervision of a registered healthcare practitioner.

The MDU adviser helped the student prepare a statement for the hearing. The student sincerely apologised for the error of judgement that led to him treating his friend and reflected on his actions and the expectations placed upon him as a future doctor.

He was also able to provide the panel with supportive testimonials from fellow students and consultants with whom he had been on clinical placement.

The panel accepted the student's apology but emphasised the importance of students not working outside the clinical setting or performing tasks for which they are not qualified.

The student received a written warning and was advised that the FTP investigation would need to be declared to the GMC when he came to apply for provisional registration.


This article was correct at publication on 27/04/2018. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.