Key messages

  • SafeScript is computer software that allows prescription records for some high-risk medicines to be transmitted in real-time to a centralised database which can then be accessed by doctors and pharmacists during a consultation.
  • SafeScript provides prescribers and pharmacists with a clinical tool to make safer decisions about whether to prescribe or dispense a high-risk medicine. It facilitates the early identification, treatment and support for patients who are developing signs of dependence.
  • Prescription medicines causing greatest harm to the community are monitored through SafeScript. This includes all Schedule 8 medicines and other high risk medicines such as benzodiazepines, zolpidem or zopiclone, quetiapine and codeine.

The increasing harmful use of prescription medicines, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, is a major public health concern. The Victorian Government is taking action to reduce these harms by implementing SafeScript, a clinical tool that will provide information about a patient’s prescription history for certain high-risk medicines.

 

Transcript:

Victoria’s SafeScript is now live, and already making a difference in patient safety.

SafeScript provides doctors and pharmacists comprehensive information about the high-risk medicines patients are taking.

It is intuitive, secure, innovative and delivers real-time alerts so that patients at risk receive the best treatment and support.

SafeScript; keeping patients on the safe side.

 

  • How does SafeScript work?

    SafeScript is computer software that allows prescription records for certain high-risk medicines to be transmitted in real-time to a centralised database which can then be accessed by doctors (or nurse practitioners) and pharmacists during a consultation with a patient.

    The records are obtained automatically via an electronic transfer of prescriptions through a Prescription Exchange Service (PES) when a prescription is issued or dispensed at a medical clinic or pharmacy. No data entry is required.

    SafeScript enables doctors and pharmacists to make safer clinical decisions and identify circumstances where patients may be receiving high-risk medicines beyond medical need.

  • Why SafeScript is necessary

    While taking prescription medicines can be beneficial for managing medical conditions, some medicines are harmful if taken in high doses or in combination with other medicines. It is easy to develop a dependence on a high-risk medicine even when the medicine is only being taken for a short period of time to address issues such as pain or anxiety.

    The number of overdose deaths in Victoria involving pharmaceutical medicines is higher than the number of overdose deaths involving illicit drugs and, since 2012, has exceeded the road toll. The latest available data, from 2017, shows that 414 Victorians died from overdoses involving prescription medicines, 271 died from overdose deaths involving illicit drugs and 258 died in road accidents.

  • When will SafeScript be implemented?

    SafeScript commenced implementation in October 2018 with an initial focus on the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area. The focus then shifted to the rest of Victoria in April 2019.

  • SafeScript Expert Advisory Group

    The Victorian Government has engaged key stakeholders in the development of SafeScript.  An expert advisory group meets regularly to advise the Victorian Government on key policy and implementation aspects that may affect both patients and health professionals.

    The advisory group includes representatives from the following organisations:

    • Australian Medical Association
    • Chapter of Addiction Medicine, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    • Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
    • Medical Software Industry Association
    • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
    • Pharmacy Guild of Australia
    • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
    • Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
    • Rural Doctors Association of Victoria
    • ScriptWise – a consumer advocacy group
    • Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia
    • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
    • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
    • Victorian Primary Health Networks
    • consumer representation
  • SafeScript legislation

    The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Real-time Prescription Monitoring) Act 2017, which enabled the implementation of SafeScript, came into operation on 2 July 2018.

    See section 146 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 1981, which can be found at www.legislation.vic.gov.au.

  • Requirements for prescribers and pharmacists effective from 2 July 2018

    Effective from 2 July 2018, prescribers and pharmacists are legally required to complete actions to ensure that the data in SafeScript is complete and accurate.

    • Prescribers must include the patient's date of birth on all prescriptions for medicines monitored through the system. The Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging software vendors to implement changes so that clinicians are prompted to include this information for computer generated scripts. 
    • Pharmacists must ensure that the patient’s date of birth is recorded in the patient’s dispensing record when a monitored medicine is dispensed. The Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging software vendors to implement changes so that dispensing software prompts pharmacists to enter date of birth. 
    • All community pharmacies must activate the connection with a PES in their dispensing software. Please contact your software vendor to find out whether your software is connected to a PES and, if not, how you might activate this connection.
  • SafeScript regulations

    The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Real-time Prescription Monitoring) Regulations 2018 came into effect on 2 July 2018.

    The regulations prescribe certain matters needed to implement an effective real-time prescription monitoring system in Victoria. These include:

    • who is required to provide records to SafeScript
    • what the records must contain
    • which medicines are monitored in SafeScript
    • the exceptions to the requirement to check SafeScript when use of the system becomes mandatory
    • the requirement to record the patient date of birth when prescribing or dispensing a medicine that is monitored in SafeScript.

    Public consultation on the SafeScript regulations took place in February 2018. All submissions were considered in the making of the regulations.

    A summary of the public submissions and the Department of Health and Human Services’ responses to the submissions are available on the links below.

  • Where can I get further information?
    For questions relating to the SafeScript initiative, the SafeScript Implementation Team can be contacted via the contact information provided on this page.