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Privacy determination allows doctors to use prescription hotline.

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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website :


AMA Vice President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said today that doctors could use the Governnment’s new prescription hotline following a determination from the Privacy Commissioner.

A Public Interest Determination released by the Privacy Commissioner late last week means that doctors could now use the Prescription Shopping Information Service hotline without breaching the Privacy Act.

Dr Haikerwal said the new service would help doctors and patients by reducing the risk of inadvertent overprescribing when patients access multiple scripts from different doctors.

He said doctors are now permitted, notwithstanding the current Privacy Act, to use the hotline to check patient prescribing patterns in order to prevent possible harm to their patients’ health and wellbeing.

“Doctors are vigilant for warning signs that patients had become addicted to certain drugs, but it is not easy to keep track of the number and source of their prescriptions for those drugs,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“This measure is helpful to doctors by reducing the risk of prescribing more medications to a patient than may be safe, especially in the case of a patient who has obtained large quantities of medications from many sources.

“For patients who may be dependent on certain medications, it is an opportunity for that dependence to be identified and properly addressed, and for underlying medical concerns to be dealt with,” Dr Haikerwal said.

15 February 2005

CONTACT: John Flannery (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761