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Nurse case highlights need for drug monitoring

A recent case has highlighted the need for further improvements to the regulation and management of controlled medicines in Queensland.

Health Ombudsman Leon Atkinson-MacEwen said the case, which was heard by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) in December last year, involved a registered practitioner who stole a doctor’s prescription pad and blank authority scripts while working at a Brisbane hospital in 2014.

It was alleged that the practitioner then forged the scripts in order to buy the drug, Endone–an oxycodone drug, listed as a drug of dependence under Schedule 8 of the Poisons Standard 2014–at two Brisbane-based pharmacies.

The practitioner also tried to buy from a third pharmacy but was turned-away by the on-duty chemist who also notified authorities.

QCAT disqualified the practitioner from applying for registration for a period of nine months after ruling that the practitioner’s actions constituted professional misconduct.

Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said that, although the management and regulation of scheduled medications in Queensland has improved considerably since 2014, further improvements were still required.

“A key recommendation that I made in my report last year into the regulation and management of schedule 8 medicines, was for the introduction of a real-time monitoring system that immediately alerts prescribers and dispensers to issues relating to the misuse, or oversupply of medications, as well as the use of fraudulent scripts,” Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said.

“Real-time monitoring would also ensure that agencies, such as mine and the Queensland Police, are instantly notified of those behaviours so that immediate action can be taken to protect the health and safety of the public.”

The Health Ombudsman’s 2016 report into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Queensland regulatory system for scheduled medicines is available for download from the Office of the Health Ombudsman website.

–ENDS