Telehealth prescriptions

Telehealth prescriptions

How do I receive my prescription medicine after a Telehealth appointment?

 A lot of GP appointments are now being held via Telehealth ie appointments are taking place over the phone or other electronic means in preference to visiting your GP in person.  This seems to be working well however there is some confusion, for Pharmacists and GP’s also, about what happens with your prescription that is issued during this consultation.

Electronic prescribing was due to occur in Australia this year even before COVID-19 was around.  This is now being fast tracked so that it will hopefully be available in the next few months.  In the mean time the government has introduced telehealth prescriptions which are one way prescriptions can be received and dispensed up until 30th September 2020.


What it a Telehealth prescription?

In all Australian states, except Queensland, prescriptions are able to be faxed or emailed to a pharmacy for most medicines and supplied to patients.  If there are repeats ordered on these prescriptions the repeats must stay at the pharmacy and so all further repeats must be obtained from that pharmacy.


Prescriptions from Telehealth consultations may not be Telehealth prescriptions!

If the GP decides to post the prescription to the pharmacy after faxing/emailing then a valid repeat may be available to be collected by or posted to the patient.  This means it is no longer a Telehealth prescription.

Yes. It’s confusing for us Pharmacists too as we are not sure which way the GP will go.


Some medicines can not be obtained on Telehealth prescriptions

There are certain medicines that GP’s must send the prescription to the pharmacy for.  Medicines that are classed as schedule 8 or schedule s4d fall into this group.  If you are not sure if you take medicines in these schedules just ask your Pharmacist.


Reclassification of some medicines

Some medicines that were not previously in schedule s4d were placed into this schedule on 17th April.  What does this mean?  Medicines such as pregabalin (Lyrica), tramadol, (Tramal), quetiapine (Seroquel), zolpidem (Stilnox) and zopiclone (Imovane) now have a prescription expiry of 6 months when they previously lasted 12 months.  This means that if you have a prescription for any of these items that was written more than 6 months ago your prescription is now out of date!  This is going to be a problem for many unsuspecting patients.  Please talk to your GP as soon as you can if you are in this situation.



What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis.  Attacks can occur rapidly and are very painful.  Gout usually affects the big toe though it can occur in the rest of the feet, ankles, knees, hands, wrists, elbows and even ears.


What causes gout?

Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood stream and instead of this uric acid leaving the body through our kidneys it turns into uric acid crystals in joints.

Causes of increased uric acid include;

  • Too much alcohol especially beer
  • Eating foods high in purines such as red meat, seafood
  • Taking diuretics
  • Having certain medical conditions; diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
  • Being overweight

Males and those with a family history of gout are also more likely to suffer with it.


Symptoms of gout

Joints affected by gout are red, swollen and painful.  They can also look shiny.  Gout can be so painful that the sufferer can not bear anything touching the joint.


Treatment of gout

Anti-inflammatories are the first level of treatment for gout and some of these can be obtained over the counter from your Pharmacist.  There are also medications available from your Doctor to treat an attack if anti-inflammatories aren’t appropriate.

If someone suffers with recurrent attacks then a medication may be prescribed by your Doctor to prevent gout attacks from occurring.  These preventative medicines need to be taken every day even if an attack occurs.  In this instance treatment medicine can be used in addition.