Prescription Shopping Program frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is prescription shopping?
This is when a patient unknowingly or deliberately gets more medicine than they need. They will visit many doctors without telling them about their other consultations.
What is the Prescription Shopping Program (PSP)?
You can register for the Prescription Shopping Information Service (2441) [PDF, 170Kb] (PSIS). It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It includes information on the prescription history of a patient identified by the PSP. This information is accurate up to the last 24 hours.
We will let you know if you’ve prescribed to a patient of concern via an alert service. We also let the patient know that they may have been supplied more medicine than they need.
Why do patients get more medicines than they need?
The patient may be:
- stockpiling it for later use
- satisfying a drug dependency
- selling, exchanging or giving medicines to relatives, or
- illegally exporting it overseas.
When is the PSIS available?
The PSIS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is call 1800 631 181* before, during or after a consultation.
Do I need my patient's consent before I call?
No. Legislative provisions are in place to allow you to get PBS information from PSP without a patient’s consent.
Can all health professionals access the PSIS?
You need a prescriber number to access this service.
How do I register?
- call us on 1800 631 181* ,or
- complete and sign the Prescription Shopping Information Service registration (2441) [PDF, 170Kb] form and fax it to (02) 6124 7820*.
When I call how do you know who I am?
To verify your identity, we will ask you to tell us:
- your prescriber number
- your full name
- an answer to a personal validation question, and
- the patient's Medicare number, date of birth and full name.
Note: your staff can’t access the PSP for you.
What type of information can I get?
When you call us, we will let you know if your patient has met the PSP criteria. If they have, you can find out:
- the number of PBS medicines supplied—this includes repeat prescriptions and prescriptions issued within 12 months, and
- the number of different prescribers. This is the number of individual prescribers identified on medicines supplied by pharmacies during the identified period.
This information is accurate up to the last 24 hours. If you want more detailed information, you can ask for a Patient Summary Report to be sent to you.
Can I still prescribe medicine to a patient who is identified by the PSP?
Yes. We provide this information to help you with your prescribing decisions.
If your patient has met the criteria for a three month period, they may not be prescription shopping. We only report on individual prescribing habits. We can’t group together PBS medicines prescribed from all of the health professionals in your practice. We recommend you assess the Patient Summary Report against your records to work out what may have been prescribed from your practice.
What does the patient summary report look like?
View an example of a Patient Summary Report [PDF, 73Kb].
How can I access a Patient Summary Report?
There are three ways you can access a report.
- Get a summary of the Patient Summary Report while you’re on the phone to us.
- Get a report online within five minutes. You will need access to Health Professional Online Services (HPOS).
- Get a report via fax or mail. Ask us while you’re on the phone.
Reports are only available if your patient meets the PSP criteria.
How can I access a Patient Summary Report online?
To get a PBS Patient Summary Report through HPOS you will need a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Individual certificate to access the secure site.
For more information about HPOS or to register for PKI go to HPOS.
Can another prescriber get information about my patient through PSP?
Yes, but only if the patient is also a patient of that prescriber and the patient has been identified under the PSP.
Can I get information about another prescriber's patient?
Yes, but only if the patient is also your patient and they have been identified under the PSP.
Can another prescriber get information about me or my prescribing through the service?
No. Prescriber names are not included on Patient Summary Reports.
Can I find out if other prescribers have prescribed for my patient?
Yes. We can tell you the number of prescribers identified on prescriptions supplied to your patient for the last three months. This may include repeat prescriptions.
Will the information include all medicine prescribed for or taken by my patient?
No. Refer to the explanatory notes page of the Patient Summary Report.
How can you guarantee the information is about my patient and not someone else?
We verify the patient's details when you call us. We thoroughly check to make sure the correct information is given to you.
Will you investigate if I have concerns about a patient that hasn’t been identified by the PSP?
We will record your request and forward it on for investigation. We will then decide if further action is needed.
To report a patient you suspect is getting more medicine than they need, call us on 1800 631 181*.
Can I get PBS information about a patient who doesn’t meet the PSP criteria?
Yes. Your patient will need to complete the Authority to release personal Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme claims information to a third party form.
Can a patient access their own PBS information?
Yes. They will need to write to us.
NSW, ACT and VIC residents
Department of Human Services
GPO Box 9822
Sydney NSW 2001
QLD, NT, TAS, SA and WA
Department of Human Services
GPO Box 9822
Brisbane QLD 4001
Do pharmacists have access to the service?
No. PSP is not currently available to pharmacists.
*Call charges apply
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Last updated: 4 October, 2013