Errors update

Active Ingredient Prescribing continues to experience teething problems, with practitioners urged to double-check scripts

Following reports of initial software provider troubles regarding Active Ingredient Prescribing, the Department of Health has confirmed that work is still underway to correct the problem.

In a February 2021 edition of Forefront, Pharmacy Guild executive director Suzanne Greenwood wrote that, “while prescribing systems have been updated, there remain flaws in the upgrades of some systems in which some active-ingredient prescriptions are being generated and are not consistent with the new requirements or the recommendations of the Safety Commission”.

“Pharmacists are being presented with prescriptions in which the intention of the prescriber is unclear and are having to contact prescribers to clarify intentions,” she said.

“In addition, there are examples of pharmacists having to contact the prescriber to re-write prescriptions so that patients can get the correct medicine.”

The AMA has told its members that prescription errors include “printing out several strength options, the wrong strength, or no strength at all” and asked them to double-check scripts and ensure their software is up to date.

The Department of Health has told the AJP that as of March 30, it is working closely with the Medical Software Industry Association and the individual software vendors affected “to identify and resolve issues within the software, that are causing the generation of inaccurate prescriptions by the prescribing platforms”. 

The Department has been advised that this has occurred in only a limited number of circumstances and the relevant software vendors are updating their products, it said.

The Department noted that it is also working with the medical peak bodies to disseminate communications to prescribers emphasising the importance of checking prescriptions after they are printed/generated to ensure all prescription information is present and correct.

It says it will continue to work closely with medical peak bodies to ensure compliance with Active Ingredient Prescribing and encourage prescribers to check completeness of prescriptions.

The Department suggests if pharmacists receive incomplete or ambiguous prescriptions they contact the prescriber to clarify their prescribing intent and request a new prescription where necessary.

If the pharmacist is concerned, it encouraged them to provide information to the Pharmacy Guild or the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, which are working with the Department to identify and address software issues.

“The Guild supports the intent of Active Ingredient Prescribing but has concerns around its implementation as it relates to patient safety,” said Anthony Tassone, Victorian branch president of the Pharmacy Guild.

“The Guild has a range of examples that our members have brought to our attention of where unintended errors of prescribing as a result of the change have had impacts on the ability of pharmacists to supply medication to their patients.  

“We have continued to raise these concerns with the Department of Health, the Medical Software Industry Association, patient groups, other health peak bodies and PHNs. 

“All stakeholders have shown commitment and are collaborating to ensure that patient safety is of the highest priority to address these concerns.”

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