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Health Bulletin (8 May 2018)

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

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Townsville Hospital introduces body camera for staff to try to stop increasing number of attacks on staff

Following a successful trial in 2017 (read more here), Townsville Hospital has introduced body-worn cameras for its staff in an attempt to stop a rising number of attacks they experience.

It is intended that the footage will be used to help with prosecutions where violent acts occur in Townsville Hospital.

More information about the decision to introduce body-worn cameras is available here.

Attacks against healthcare workers have increased over recent years.  In November 2017, violence in Victorian hospitals resulted in the introduction of a Victorian Government policy to protect staff, patients and visitors from violence in hospitals. See our previous alert here.

SafeScript on track for October 2018 – Time to prepare

The real-time prescription monitoring service (known as "SafeScript") will be launched in October this year.  SafeScript, will transmit pharmacy dispensing records for certain medicines in real-time to a centralised database, allowing prescribers and pharmacists to access an up-to-the-minute prescription history of certain high risk medicines for their patient at the point of consultation, enabling safer clinical decision making.

It will be mandatory for prescribers and pharmacists to check SafeScript when writing or dispensing a script for a high-risk medicine, which include all Schedule 8 medicines as well as Schedule 4 benezodiapines, Z-drugs and quetiapine.

Victorian pharmacists are being urged to ensure their registration details with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency are up to date in the lead-up to the planned launch of SafeScript.

Read about how to prepare for the introduction of SafeScript here.

Department of Health offers enforceable undertaking following Medicare and PBS data breaches

In September 2016, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (“OAIC”) was notified of vulnerabilities in the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme datasets published online.  The datasets were based on personal information held by the Department of Health (“Department”).  Following the notification, the OAIC opened an investigation to assess whether personal information had been compromised and the adequacy of the Department’s processes.

Timothy Pilgrim, the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner (“Commissioner”), concluded his investigation on 23 March 2018.  He concluded that the Department’s processes for assessing risks were inadequate with the Department offering to enter into an enforceable undertaking to review and enhance its data governance with oversight from the OAIC.

The Commissioner also noted that this situation is an important reminder for all Australian Government agencies to strengthen their approach to publishing data derived from personal information.

Read the OAIC’s statement here.

AMA Position Statements: men’s health, drugs in sport and the NDIS

The Australian Medical Association (“AMA”) has recently released position statements in relation to a number of health hot topics.  First on the agenda is Men’s Health, which the AMA believes requires a national strategy to address the greater vulnerability men have to various health disorders as well as substance abuse, suicide, and mental health problems.  You can view the AMA’s Position Statement on Men’s Health in full here.

The AMA also released its Position Statement on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which calls on the Government to ensure that medical practitioners are provided with details on what medical information is required for NDIS assessments. The Statement can be viewed here.

Finally, the AMA’s Position Statement on Drugs in Sport raises a number of issues that medical practitioners encounter when working with athletes, including potential conflicts of interest and what advice should be given to athletes to assist them to comply with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code.  The statement can be viewed here.

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