Saving lives with the launch of ScriptCheckSA

ScriptCheckSA is software that provides prescribers and pharmacists with a real-time history of the high-risk medicines (monitored drugs) their patients’ have been prescribed and supplied.

The information available in ScriptCheckSA will help doctors and pharmacists make safer clinical decisions about which medicines to prescribe or supply to their patients.

Why is ScriptCheckSA being implemented?

Prescription medicines can provide relief from the pain of an accident or injury, surgery or the symptoms of anxiety, sleep disorders and more. However, some prescription medicines can cause dependence and can be harmful.

Prescription drug dependence, misuse and diversion are major public health concerns both in Australia and internationally. Every day in Australia, people die, present to emergency departments and are hospitalised because of harm from prescribed medicines.

Alerting prescribers and pharmacists to potential risks in real-time can help them make safer clinical decisions before prescribing or dispensing a monitored drug, and potentially reduce the risk of death caused by preventable overdose.

All states and territories in Australia have agreed to implement national real-time
prescription monitoring as part of the solution to help save lives and reduce harm in the community from prescribed medicines.

What are the aims of ScriptCheckSA?

ScriptCheckSA will not tell a doctor or pharmacist what to do, or if a monitored drug should, or should not, be prescribed or supplied. This clinical decision remains with them as they are best placed to determine if the medicines prescribed are the safest and best option for their patient’s health needs.

ScriptCheckSA aims to minimise the potential harms associated with prescribing and supplying monitored drugs by giving prescribers and pharmacists real-time information to support their professional decision making.

Which medicines are monitored by ScriptCheckSA?

Prescription medicines that cause the greatest harm to the South Australian community are monitored by ScriptCheckSA, irrespective of whether they receive a PBS subsidy or are private, non-PBS prescriptions.

Monitored drugs include all Schedule 8 medicines (drugs of dependence) and Schedule 4 medicines that increase the risk of harm when co-prescribed with drugs of dependence, including:

  • All Schedule 4 medicines that are Benzodiazepines,
  • All S4 medicines that contain Codeine, and
  • Gabapentin
  • Pregabalin
  • Quetiapine
  • Tramadol
  • Zolpidem, and
  • Zopiclone.

Schedule 8 medicines will always be monitored by ScriptCheckSA and other Schedule 4 medicines may be monitored if there is evidence of an emerging risk of harm when co-prescribed with drugs of dependence.

What information is recorded in ScriptCheckSA?

When a doctor writes a prescription or a pharmacist dispenses a medicine, specific information is recorded. When it relates to a monitored drug, ScriptCheckSA collects this information automatically from Prescription Exchange Services (PES) that allow the electronic transfer of prescriptions from medical clinics to pharmacies.

On 1 November 2020, some prescription and dispensing data started to be sent to ScriptCheckSA. Historical records of dispensed drugs of dependence, and from non-PES connected prescribing and dispensing software are kept by the DDU.

No medical notes, information about other medicines or test results are available in ScriptCheckSA.

Who can access ScriptCheckSA?

Doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals who can prescribe medicines (e.g. nurse practitioners) may access ScriptCheckSA if they are directly involved in your care and only for the purpose of deciding if it is safe to prescribe or supply a monitored drug to you.

Authorised Officers at the Drugs of Dependence Unit may also access ScriptCheckSA as part of their regulatory role in ensuring the safe supply of medicines in the community.

Monitoring prescription and supply of monitored drugs will help identify prescribers who are not complying with the Controlled Substances laws.

Penalties may apply to any person who is found to be inappropriately accessing, sharing or using information obtained from ScriptCheckSA.

How are patient records kept secure in ScriptCheckSA?

The South Australian Government is committed to ensuring that patient information in ScriptCheckSA is kept secure at all times. ScriptCheckSA is aligned with national data security standards for government information and communications technology (ICT) systems.

Data transmitted between medical practice systems, pharmacy dispensing systems and ScriptCheckSA is encrypted at all times and occurs through a secure, encrypted internet connection. The system’s security is and will be regularly tested to ensure that information in ScriptCheckSA remains protected.

An important security feature of ScriptCheckSA is multi-factor authentication, which requires doctors and pharmacists to undergo multiple verification steps each time they log in.

How is patient privacy protected?

Personal and health information is protected by law and can only be collected, used and disclosed for authorised purposes. The national Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles require that personal information is stored securely; and that individuals are provided with clear information about what personal information is held about them and how they might go about getting access to it or requesting that it be corrected where necessary.

In addition, there is an offence and penalty under the Controlled Substances Act 1984 for any unauthorised access, use, or disclosure of information contained in ScriptCheckSA.

Drugs of Dependence Unit monitors the audit log that is created each time a patient record is viewed in ScriptCheckSA. Penalties may apply under SA law for unauthorised access, use or disclosure of information in ScriptCheckSA, and the matter may also be referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) for further investigation.

Can patients opt-out of ScriptCheckSA?

No. ScriptCheckSA is not an opt-out system.

The collection of prescription and dispensing records by ScriptCheckSA is necessary to provide doctors and pharmacists with access to a complete record of a patient’s access to monitored drugs to ensure they do not receive more medicines than they medically need.

The Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011 require that records from electronic prescribing and dispensing systems for monitored drugs are provided to ScriptCheckSA.

What is the difference between My Health Record and ScriptCheckSA?

ScriptCheckSA and My Health Record are not the same.

My Health Record allows patients to control a summary of their health information, to choose what health information goes into their record and who can access it.

ScriptCheckSA is independent of My Health Record and unlike My Health Record, patients cannot opt-out of ScriptCheckSA

Is use of ScriptCheckSA mandatory?

No. However, after approximately 12 months of voluntary use, it is expected that it will become mandatory for prescribers and pharmacists to take all reasonable steps to check the information available in ScriptCheckSA before prescribing or dispensing a monitored drug.

This follows worldwide best practice, as mandatory systems adopted interstate and overseas have shown to provide greater reduction in harms from high-risk prescription medicines.

Full public consultation will be undertaken before legislative change to make use of ScriptCheckSA mandatory occurs.


Drugs of Dependence Unit (DDU)
Phone: 1300 652 584