Full identification needed for ASL registration

Pharmacists are required to access a patient’s photo identification in many situations when dealing with the Active Script List (ASL).

Already in use across much of Tasmania and some locations in Victoria, the ASL is a new way of viewing and dispensing electronic prescriptions. Rather than presenting a barcode or QR code – known as a ‘token’ – at the dispensary, using an ASL patients can safely store all their electronic prescriptions in one place, and allow a pharmacy to access them.

The Department of Health provided more information about how this works in the Active Script List Privacy Framework, released on Monday. This contained a number of important details for pharmacists, including the need to verify a patient’s identity when registering them for an ASL.

To verify someone’s identity, a pharmacist is required to view their current government-issued photo identification and a Medicare or DVA card. If the patient doesn’t have a photo ID, pharmacists have two options:

  1. View a Medicare/DVA card, plus 100 points of ID (not including the Medicare/DVA card)
  2. Use the ‘known patient model’. This means you must be able to identify the patient, and they must have had a prescription filled in their own name in your pharmacy on at least 4 separate occasions over the previous 12 months. 

Patients currently taking Controlled Drugs (Schedule 8) medicines – whether or not they are known to you – must satisfy the 100 point check if photo ID is unavailable.

Pharmacists must also verify the identity of a patient (or their agent/carer) when they request a medicine be dispensed from their ASL. 

If you know the patient, you can use your existing known patient policy. If you don’t know them, you need a photo ID and their Medicare/DVA card. 

Best practice 

PSA Senior Pharmacist, Consulting Jarrod McMaugh MPS said it was important to remember best practice when dealing with photo identification.

‘If someone legitimately doesn’t have photo identification, move on to 100 points of ID and the known patient model,’ he said. ‘But don’t go through that if they really do have photo ID and they just don’t have it on them. 

‘Nobody needs an ASL in an emergency – ask them to bring their ID with them next time and you can set it up.’

He pointed to the Department of Health’s Framework, which states: ‘If you are not satisfied that you can confidently and effectively identify the person, you must not register that individual under the known patient model’.

‘It makes a lot of sense,’ Mr McMaugh said. ‘By creating an ASL, you’re creating a shared record that will show a person’s prescriptions, so you must ensure that it really is that person in front of you.’

The same applies to dispensing via an ASL.

‘If I were to walk into a pharmacy and give a false name, and that false name is attached to an ASL, theoretically if the pharmacist didn’t check, they could dispense medicine to me that was meant for someone else,’ he said.

‘Even if the patient isn’t trying to get a prescription inappropriately, you never know if there’s an error. Confirming you have the right person is important in all settings, it just happens to be that with the ASL there’s an extra layer of needing to confirm.’

While photo ID such as a driver’s license shouldn’t be too difficult to access, Mr McMaugh said the requirement might impact workflow.

This could be avoided by building the identity check into normal practice when dispensing from an ASL. 

‘There’s a need for pharmacists to understand where the photo identification is necessary, and communicate this effectively to support staff, to ensure they ask for photo ID in situations where it’s required,’ he said.

‘The privacy framework also doesn’t say that support staff can verify the identification – it has to be the pharmacist. So you should consider the workflow and whether your assistants should ask patients to leave their ID behind for you to check when dispensing from an ASL.’  

View the Active Script List Privacy Framework.