A real-time prescription monitoring system being piloted in Maryborough should be rolled out across the rest of Victoria and the country, a pharmacy owner said.
The SafeScript computer software centralises prescription records for some high-risk medicines in a database accessible to doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
The software allows healthcare professionals to make more informed decisions about prescribing pateints high-risk medicines such as benzodiazepines, codeine, quetiapine, and zolpidem.
Priceline Pharmacy Maryborough owner Colin Robinson said the new system has been operating very well with most customers responding positively to the new system.
“The real-time monitoring enables us to look at real information, to talk to patients and to talk about their medication,” he said.
“Some customer have (reacted well to the change), some haven't but at the end of the day the system is designed to help us, help them. (Some customers) may not see it that way.”
SafeScript went online in October at more than 400 sites across the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area including Maryborough, Ararat, Ballarat, Geelong, Stawell and Warrnambool.
Mr Robinson said the western district of Victoria was used as a pilot site because of the higher number of people who abuse prescription medication.
“Maryborough has a few issues with lots of things and (medication abuse) can be a bit of an issue but it is also an issue around other places, not just Maryborough,” he said.
“In some ways it’s not people being a bit dodgy. (It’s also about) people who, for whatever reason, ended up on prescription medication whose doses got bigger.
“People know now large doses aren’t the way to go. The system calculates the doses (on the script) and suggests maybe the person should be monitored better or have medication reduced.”
More than 400 people in Victoria died due to prescription medicine overdoses in 2017, a higher figure than the the 290 people who died on the state’s roads in the same year.
“With this real time information we can say ‘this has occurred’ and then they cant deny it. It’s not about us being a policemen. The unfortunate thing is death by prescription medication in Australia is quite high,” Mr Robinson said.
“Previously when challenged some patients might say (the prescription) wasn’t for me, now it is there in black and white to see and they can’t deny it.
“People who have a disorder like that have tendency to tell stories to get their case across, some will quite happily tell us porkies.”
Mr Robinson said the SafeScript success he has witnessed means it should be rolled out across Victoria.
“This is something that has taken a while to develop and get various parties on board,” he said.
“But at the end of the day (SafeScript) should go national. The infrastructure we use is duplicated in rest of Australia, so it’s not hard to roll out, you just need the stakeholders on board.
“The whole thing is designed to save people's lives. It helps health professionals save peoples lives who are at risk of overdosing from prescription medication.
“Prescription medication is safe in most cases but in the wrong hands or in high doses it can led to terrible problems.”
The SafeScript roll-out will be accompanied by an awareness campaign highlighting the potential dangers posed by some prescription medications. It includes a hotline offering free, expert and confidential advice hotline – 1800 737 233.
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