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DoH clarifies policy on handwritten scripts

04 Sep 2013


Photo by Denis Closon / Rex Features

By Catherine Reilly.

Draft amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations do not propose that prescriptions for benzodiazepines and z-drugs be handwritten, according to a clarification from the Department of Health.

IMT understands that the clarification came after submissions to the Department presented concerns from doctors that they would be required to handwrite patients’ names, addresses and dosages when prescribing benzodiazepines and z-drugs.

GPs had considered such a move as belonging to “a bygone era” and an unnecessary additional burden on practices already under huge pressures.

However, a Department spokesperson told IMT that the only handwriting obligation proposed under the draft regulations in relation to benzodiazepines and z-drugs was where the prescription was to be extended beyond three months’ treatment in order to provide up to six months of treatment and in such cases, it was proposed that a “statement in the practitioner’s handwriting indicating that the quantity prescribed is necessary for the treatment of that patient” was required.

In correspondence with doctors, Hawkins House noted that it was proposed that benzodiazepine and z-drug prescriptions would ordinarily be valid for up to a maximum of two months, with a total quantity to be supplied on the prescription limited to three months, unless the prescriber decided that a patient required treatment for up to six months — triggering the necessity of the hand-written note.

Consultation on the Draft Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 2013 closes today (August 30).

Controlling additional benzodiazepines (phenazepam) and z-drugs (zopiclone and zaleplon) is also proposed under the draft amendments, as is the removal of the requirement that methadone prescriptions be handwritten, in line with the recommendation of the HSE’s Introduction of the Opioid Treatment Protocol Report.

catherine.reilly@imt.ie

Date: 
4 September 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times