Administration of Schedule 8 medicines to patients attending for emergencies

Applicable to: Hospital personnel

OD 0142/08 will be superseded by MP 0139/20 Medicines Handling Policy on 01 December 2020. OD 0142/08 will remain in effect until this time. For further information, please contact the Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch

Description: Policy on administration of Schedule 8 medicine in Emergency Departments.

Administration of Schedule 8 medicines to patients attending for emergencies


Patients who attend hospital Emergency Departments (ED) may require treatment with Schedule 8 medicines.

There are cases on record where the patient has presented to the ED with the primary intent of seeking access to Schedule 8 medicines. Some of these patients have subsequently been found to be notified drug addicts. Treating a drug addict with a Schedule 8 medicine is contrary to the Poisons Regulations 1965 unless specific prior authorisation has been given.


In order to minimise the risk of inappropriate treatment with Schedule 8 medicines, all patients for whom the administration of a Schedule 8 medicine is being considered must be:

  • examined by a medical practitioner personally within the ED and administered a schedule 8 medicine(s) if the examining medical practitioner considers it appropriate; OR
  • admitted on the instruction of a medical practitioner to the hospital as an inpatient and examined as soon as practicable (not more than 24 hours).

Historically, some patients have accessed Schedule 8 medicines from hospital emergency departments as part of their ongoing treatment of chronic conditions (which may be associated with acute episodes). This has primarily occurred in areas where a medical practitioner is not immediately available at the hospital.

In hospitals without on-site medical staff and where a medical practitioner, practising at the hospital, has decided that a patient is to receive an ongoing prescription for a Schedule 8 medicine within the ED, then this must have prior approval of the relevant Director of Clinical Services (DCS) or Regional Medical Director. An application detailing the justification of ongoing treatment, diagnosis, drug and dose of each patient’s treatment must be made to the relevant DCS and this approval is to be reviewed every 12 months.

Dr Robyn Lawrence

Date of effect: 09 July 2008 to 09 July 2013

Policy Framework