INSIGHTS: ‘SafeScript’ Roll-out: An update for practitioners on important regulatory changes from 1 July 2018

May 24, 2018


The Victorian Department of Health has confirmed that the implementation of the ‘SafeScript’ real-time prescription monitoring system will begin later this year. The initial roll-out is set to take place in the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area before it is extended to the remainder of the State in 2019.

‘SafeScript’ is intended to provide prescribers and pharmacists with better and more contemporaneous information about the relevant prescription history of their presenting patients, with a view to reducing potential harm caused by the misuse of prescription medicines in Victoria. Monitored prescriptions will include all Schedule 8 medicines, benzodiazepines, z-drugs and quetiapine, with the likelihood that Schedule 4 codeine will be included at a later date.

Although the system will not be implemented until later this year, preparations for the effective commencement of ‘SafeScript’ have already begun and include regulatory changes relating to data collection which will take effect from 1 July 2018.  The purpose of these changes is to start loading data into the system, such that accurate information is available to practitioners from the first day they start to use it.  The Department of Health & Human Services (the Department) has noted the following key requirements which will be effective from 1 July 2018:

  • prescribers are required to include the patient’s date of birth on all prescriptions for medicines monitored through the system. Prescribing software should prompt clinicians to include this information for computer generated scripts. The Department of Health and Human Services is engaging with software vendors to support this change.
  • pharmacists are required to ensure when a monitored medicine is dispensed the patient’s date of birth is recorded in the patient’s dispensing record. Dispensing software should prompt pharmacists to enter the date of birth. The Department of Health and Human Services is engaging with software vendors to support this change.
  • all community pharmacies that have not activated the connection with the Pharmacy Exchange Service (PES) in their software need to turn on the connection by contacting their software vendor. This is necessary so that complete records are available in SafeScript.

The ‘SafeScript’ system is designed to work most effectively when GP clinics and pharmacies are connected to the PES, because it will automatically transmit records through to ‘SafeScript’ without the need for additional data entry by the practitioner.  If practitioners do not have a connection to the PES, however, the Department notes that the practitioner will need to log on to a separate web portal to search for the patient.

Crucially, once ‘SafeScript’ goes live, the  Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Real-time Prescription Monitoring) Act 2017 (Vic) makes it clear that both pharmacists and registered medical practitioners will be required to take all reasonable steps to check the database for the records relating to a person, before prescribing or supplying a monitored supply poison to that person (unless the regulations otherwise provide).

Further and more detailed information is available on the Department’s website. We will keep you updated with further developments as they come to light.

This article was written by Principal Kellie Dell’Oro and Associate Anna Martin. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like further information.

Disclaimer: This information is current as of May 2018. This article does not constitute legal advice and does not give rise to any solicitor/client relationship between Meridian Lawyers and the reader. Professional legal advice should be sought before acting or relying upon the content of this article.