How is patient privacy protected?

Information collected in Canberra Script is a health record and is protected by law under the Health Records (Access and Privacy) Act 1997. The Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 outlines acceptable use and offences related to this information. Strict penalties apply for any person found to be inappropriately accessing or using Canberra Script information.

Each time a record is viewed in Canberra Script, a log is created and this is monitored by ACT Health. If unauthorised use is detected, a health practitioner may face penalties as outlined in the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008.

A Privacy Impact Assessment has been undertaken to ensure the implementation of Canberra Script is compliant with privacy laws.

Canberra Script is based on the National Data exchange (NDE) which collects information, including personal information, from prescribing and dispensing software, and a range of other external data sources, to produce real-time detection and alerting information for regulators, prescribers and dispensers. The Commonwealth does not have access to personal information in the NDE. Find out more information about how personal information is protected in the NDE.

What information is in Canberra Script?

A prescriber or pharmacist will be able to look up information in Canberra Script for any patient in the ACT. Information displayed will include patient details as well as their monitored medicine prescribing and dispensing history and any ACT CHO approvals to prescribe a controlled medicine that are in place for them. Specifically, information will appear in Canberra Script for any monitored medicines that have been prescribed or dispensed from an ACT practice or pharmacy, regardless of a person’s address. Information will also appear in Canberra Script for monitored medicines that have been prescribed or dispensed interstate for ACT residents.

Who has access to patient records held in Canberra Script?

A prescriber or pharmacist is permitted to view a patient record in Canberra Script in the following circumstances:

  • when prescribing or supplying a monitored medicine to the patient
  • when reviewing the patient’s monitored medicine history as part of a patient consultation (e.g. when a prescriber takes a patient history or a pharmacist conducts a medication review)
  • when discussing the patient’s monitored medicine history with other registered health practitioners who are involved in that patient’s care
  • when applying for Chief Health Officer approval
  • a purpose prescribed by regulation

While a prescriber or pharmacist does not need patient consent to view their Canberra Script records, it is good clinical practice to talk to the patient about what information is being accessed and how the information is being used to inform decisions about their treatment.

ACT Health staff authorised by the Chief Health Officer can also access Canberra Script as part of their regulatory role in ensuring the safe supply of medicines in the community.   

How does Canberra Script keep information secure

Data transmitted between medical practice prescribing systems, pharmacy dispensing systems and the Canberra Script database is encrypted at all times and occurs through a secure, encrypted internet connection. Data stored in the Canberra Script database is also encrypted at all times.

Canberra Script uses contemporary security measures to safeguard data against unauthorised access. Health practitioners will be required to use multi-factor authentication (a username /password and PIN) to access the system. The security of the system is routinely tested and reviewed to ensure data stored in Canberra Script remains protected.

How can a patient access information in Canberra Script?

A patient is entitled to request access to personal health information held about them in Canberra Script as per the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997. A patient can request information regarding their Canberra Script record from their health practitioner. Their health practitioner can discuss this information with them as required.

If a patient believes their information in Canberra Script is incorrect, a request for amendment can be made with the relevant health practitioner. In many cases an error or omission is likely due to an error in the prescriber’s or the pharmacist’s clinical system. A request should be made directly to the prescriber or pharmacist and when a change is made in their clinical system, the change will automatically be updated in Canberra Script.

For more information about requesting an amendment to information in Canberra Script or for patient’s requesting access to their health information in Canberra Script, please contact the ACT Health Pharmaceutical Services Section in writing via

How to make a privacy complaint

If a health practitioner is concerned their privacy has been breached, they can make a complaint to ACT Health about how their personal information has been handled in Canberra Script. Please contact the ACT Chief Pharmacist, Pharmaceutical Services via email at

Page last updated on: 23 Feb 2022