PDL would like to remind NSW-based pharmacists and pharmacy owners of the requirement to complete an S8 stock check during March.
While most pharmacists are compliant with this regulatory obligation, PDL is aware from incident reports that this requirement is overlooked on occasion leading to potential regulatory action.
PDL appreciates the reasons this oversight may occur could be due to high workloads or staffing issues, or because pharmacists such as newly registered or interstate-trained pharmacists may be unfamiliar with this requirement. Unfortunately, these factors do not negate the requirement for the stock check to be completed.
The other issue that has been raised with PDL regarding this activity is a lack of awareness by some pharmacists that the stock check involves all S8 medicines, including the opioid treatment program medicines and any expired or returned S8 medicines.
Members may know from previous Practice Alerts that PDL has been involved with other representative organisations, the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales and NSW Health in a NSW Pharmacy Stakeholder Forum. The following is a reprinted version of an alert provided to NSW-based pharmacists about the management of high-risk S8 and S4D medicines.
PDL NSW members were sent a Forum communique in October 2022 about the joint initiative between the Pharmacy Council of NSW, NSW Health and the pharmacy organisations representing most NSW pharmacists.
As mentioned in the communique, the purpose of the Forum is to:
- monitor regulatory issues that impact on the governance and performance of NSW pharmacists and owners of NSW pharmacies;
- identify key communication messages for pharmacists related to obligations and responsibilities of pharmacists in respect of the law, policies, guidelines and standards;
- develop an integrated approach to communicating with pharmacists;
- encourage a collaborative approach to the promotion of clinical governance and legislative compliance amongst pharmacists.
Forum representatives have been tasked with developing several resources to support NSW pharmacists. The resources are intended to increase awareness of these areas at risk of investigation or penalty within the profession and to offer suggestions to mitigate the risk to patients, pharmacists, prescribers and the public. The resources are intended to be used as tools for pharmacists in conjunction with a pharmacist’s overall knowledge and autonomous practice.
The following documents offer guidance for the management of high-risk S8, S4B and S4D medicines with a particular focus on Monitored Medicines:
- Monitored Medicines dispensing flow chart protocol
- Supporting resources for managing high-risk S8, S4B & S4D medicines in NSW
It is hoped that pharmacists and pharmacy owners will utilise the flow chart to guide the assessment and dispensing of prescriptions for these medicines. It is suggested the flow chart be located within the dispensary, preferably near the prescription preparation area.
The supporting resource provides useful background information, linked resources for risk mitigation actions and suggestions for pharmacists and pharmacy management. Many of the websites listed in the supporting document are useful for assessing the validity and safety of prescriptions and it’s suggested the websites be saved on the dispensing terminals for easy access.
One of the referenced resources is the NSW Health ‘Lost, stolen or forged prescriptions’ web page. It has a table listing the details of the purported prescriber as they appear on prescriptions reported to be lost, stolen or forged. PDL encourages pharmacists to check this web page as another action to reduce the risk of dispensing a forged prescription.
Other resources for pharmacists include the PSA’s ‘Dispensing Practice Guidelines’ and the SHPA’s ‘Standard of practice in dispensing and distribution for pharmacy services’.
If you have questions regarding this material or the management of these medicines, please contact the PDL Professional Officers.
For immediate advice and incident support, call PDL on 1300 854 838 to speak with one of our Professional Officers. We are here to support our pharmacist members 24/7, Australia-wide.