Prescriber details: no small matter

pharmacist computer laptop technology digital my health record

A pharmacy’s dispensing history was once a closed loop within the pharmacy walls… however today, with the advent of My Health Record and real time monitoring, the situation is very different

A pharmacy’s dispensing records are now visible to other health professionals, as well as some statutory organisations. This visibility has created some problems for pharmacists and prescribers, especially where the wrong information has been recorded by a pharmacy.

A major problem has been exposed where a pharmacy enters the wrong details of a prescriber. Some pharmacists may have considered this to be a minor error in the past, but with records now being shared, we have encountered several problems.

Case Study

SafeScript real time monitoring is now operational in Victoria for a selected group of high risk drugs. Recently, a psychiatrist who had provided dexamphetamine for a patient reviewed the dispensing history for this person and noted that he had obtained dexamphetamine from another prescriber.

The psychiatrist became very angry and refused to treat this patient even after the patient denied seeking this drug elsewhere. After extensive investigation, it was found that the dispensing pharmacist had entered the wrong prescriber details for the psychiatrist which made it appear in the history that another prescriber was involved.

Naturally, the psychiatrist was not impressed by the pharmacy’s lack of attention to detail.

Other problems can occur by entering the wrong details for a prescriber. Some prescribers have restrictions placed on their registration where they cannot prescribe certain groups of drugs such as S8s, steroids or benzodiazepines.

If a pharmacist wrongly uses a restricted prescriber’s name when dispensing one of the drugs mentioned above, it appears that this prescriber is practising in contravention to their registration. The subsequent investigation by the regulators is embarrassing and stressful for this prescriber, who may in turn project their distress towards the pharmacy that made the error in data entry.

Consumers can become angry, or anxious if an unfamiliar prescriber’s name appears on their dispensed medication. Occasionally, consumers who are affected by this error will report the pharmacist to a regulator, who in turn will investigate the matter.

An investigation by a pharmacy authority can be confronting for a pharmacist. However, the confidential peer support and guidance PDL provides helps take some of the stress away from members who may be experiencing an official demand or enquiry. Legal advice may also be provided to members where appropriate.

The take home message here is that prescriber details are not a small matter and should be checked and entered accurately. Be aware that some dispensing systems will default to a previous prescriber who may not be the correct one for the prescription being dispensed.

Call 1300 854 838 if this topic raises any concerns for you. PDL membership includes 24/7 access to speak with a Professional Officer for immediate advice and incident support, Australia wide. Use your member login to the portal at to leave a comment or question for our Professional Officers via the blog (via login to the portal).

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  1. David George

    It’s extremely important and something that needs to be taken extremely seriously. While computer generated prescriptions has made this less of an issue than it used to be, hospital prescriptions need particular attention. Most of these are hand-written. It is rare that the prescriber number can’t be deciphered (although some days …), however, prescriber names is another matter. The patient generally doesn’t know who it is and good luck contacting the hospital to work out who it is.

    • M M

      I think Pharmacy dispensing software vendors should find a way to connect community pharmacy dispensing software to hospitals eMRs.

    • Pete Tzimos

      100% agree David – the hours I’ve wasted trying to track down the name and prescriber number on an ED script (invariably for a Panadeine Forte / Endone Rx ) where it is even more important for the purposes of Safescript.

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