ScriptCheckSA - Real Time Prescription Monitoring in South Australia

ScriptCheckSA is the name of South Australia’s real time prescription monitoring computer system. ScriptCheckSA provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s use of monitored drugs when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs, to ensure safer clinical decisions.

What is Real Time Prescription Monitoring?

Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) uses a computer system to provide prescribers (e.g. doctors) and pharmacists with information about a patient’s use of monitored drugs when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs.

ScriptCheckSA is the name of South Australia’s RTPM computer system.

Why is ScriptCheckSA being implemented in South Australia?

Prescription drug dependence, misuse and diversion are increasing concerns both in Australia and internationally – with associated overdose and accidental death continuing to rise in Australia.

Monitored drugs include pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, some medications used to manage anxiety, narcolepsy or ADHD including dexamfetamine, methylphenidate and alprazolam.

A RTPM system such as ScriptCheckSA can help reduce misuse and ensure that patients who genuinely need these medicines can still get them.

In 2018, the State Government committed $7.5 million to implement a RTPM system in South Australia and it is anticipated that ScriptCheckSA will be available for prescribers and pharmacists to use in early 2021.

What are the aims of ScriptCheckSA?

ScriptCheckSA will not stop a doctor or pharmacist from prescribing or dispensing a monitored drug; this decision will remain at the professional discretion of the health practitioner.

ScriptCheckSA aims to help prescribers and pharmacists by:

  • identifying patients who are at risk of harm due to dependence or misuse of monitored drugs
  • identifying patients who may be diverting these drugs
  • minimising ‘doctor shopping’ (when a person visits multiple prescribers for prescriptions of a monitored drug).

Alerting prescribers and pharmacists in real-time to information about a person’s access to potentially harmful prescription drugs will allow them to make safer clinical decisions before they prescribe or dispense a monitored drug and potentially reduce the risk of death caused by preventable overdose.

ScriptCheckSA will also help SA Health regulators (Drugs of Dependence Unit) identify prescribers who are not complying with the Controlled Substances laws. Early identification of high-risk prescribing behaviour can help to reduce the risk of harm to patients from monitored drugs.

How will ScriptCheckSA work?

There are two parts:

  1. The National Data Exchange (NDE) that captures information from state and territory regulatory systems, prescribing and dispensing software and a range of external data sources.
  2. SA Regulatory Portal that manages legal authorities to prescribe drugs of dependence and allows the Drugs of Dependence Unit (DDU) to perform the regulation and monitoring responsibilities of the Health Minister under the Controlled Substances laws.

ScriptCheckSA will be integrated into most existing prescribing and dispensing software and will produce real-time alerts and notifications for prescribers, pharmacists and regulators.
Prescribers and pharmacists will receive a notification if there is information in ScriptCheckSA that should be considered before a prescription for a monitored drug is written or dispensed.

For prescribers and pharmacists that don’t use software with RTPM capability, they will be able to access patient information through an Online Health Practitioner Portal or by contacting the DDU by phone (1300 652 584) or email HealthDrugsofDependenceUnit@sa.gov.au.

Who will be able to access a patient’s record in ScriptCheckSA?

Only unrestricted AHPRA registered prescribers (such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and other specialists who hold an endorsement to prescribe scheduled medicines) and unrestricted AHPRA registered pharmacists involved in the patient’s care, including those working in hospitals will be able to view information in ScriptCheckSA.

The Regulator (DDU) will also have access to ScriptCheckSA via a separate Regulatory Portal.

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

Impact of ScriptCheckSA on patients

ScriptCheckSA will not stop a patient from obtaining their regular medicines where their doctor has identified a legitimate clinical need.

Impact of ScriptCheckSA on prescribers and pharmacists

Integration of ScriptCheckSA into prescribing and dispensing software means that existing prescribing and dispensing workflows will remain unchanged. Prescribers and pharmacists will be able to access information through a direct link in the ScriptCheckSA notification.

ScriptCheckSA will not stop doctors or pharmacists from prescribing or dispensing monitored drugs. Whether it is clinically appropriate to prescribe or dispense a medication remains the professional responsibility of the treating prescriber or pharmacist.

Integration of clinical software with the NDE will also fulfil the reporting requirements of prescribers and pharmacists under the recently amended Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011.

Education and online training about how to access and use ScriptCheckSA will be made available for prescribers and pharmacists in early 2021 prior to the state-wide release of ScriptCheckSA.

Which medicines will be monitored through ScriptCheckSA?

ScriptCheckSA will monitor all Schedule 8 medicines (drugs of dependence) and some Schedule 4 medicines that present an increased risk of harm, overdose or addiction when co-prescribed with drugs of dependence.

Based on current evidence, ScriptCheckSA will monitor:

  • All S8 poisons,
  • All S4 poisons that are Benzodiazepines,
  • All S4 poisons that contain Codeine, and
  • The following S4 poisons:
    • Gabapentin
    • Pregabalin
    • Quetiapine
    • Tramadol
    • Zolpidem
    • Zopiclone

Contact

Real Time Prescription Monitoring | ScriptCheckSA
Drugs of Dependence Unit
Email: Health.RTPM@sa.gov.au