What are Signature Exempt Prescriptions?

Signature Exempt Prescriptions are electronic prescriptions that do not require a physical wet ink signature from an authorised prescriber. 

For general practices and others that have access to a prescribing system that is integrated to the New Zealand Electronic Prescription Service, there is an enduring Director-General of Health authorisation of an alternative form of prescription that permits Signature Exempt Prescriptions if certain conditions are met.  The section below, NZePS Signature Exempt Prescriptions (with barcode) provides guidance for prescribers, community pharmacies and vendors on how to generate, send and manage prescriptions without a signature that have been made valid under this authorised alternative form.

For systems and settings where NZePS is not currently an option e.g. hospital discharge and outpatient prescribing, community prescribing from dentists, midwives, allied health clinicians and prescribers at general practices using Profile for Mac (NOTE: the waiver does NOT apply to users of Profile for Windows) or Best Practice there is a temporary waiver which recognises prescriptions not signed personally by a prescriber with their usual signature, as legal when certain conditions are met.  These conditions and guidance on how to manage these prescriptions can be found in the section Temporary Exemption from Signatures on Prescriptions without NZePS (no barcode).  This authorisation will now expire on 31 October 2024.  

For questions about the content below please email onlinehelpdesk@health.govt.nz.

How to generate a Signature Exempt Prescription

The following conditions must be met for a signatureless prescription with an NZePS barcode to be valid:

  • The prescription does not include Controlled Drugs (Class A, B or C) but can include exempt and partially exempt Class C Controlled Drugs as defined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (see Appendix 2 for Class C Controlled Drugs that are NOT exempt or partially exempt)
  • The system that generates the prescription has been authorised by the Ministry of Health for Signature Exempt Prescriptions. The following systems have currently been certified for this capability:

o MedTech32, MedTech Evolution

o MyPractice

o Indici

o Medimap

o Profile for Windows

o Pulse (MedOnline).

o Elixir Medical Software

o Waikato DHB Clinical Workstation

o Expect Maternity Software

o TrakCare

For these prescriptions to be valid, the pharmacy must use the barcode at the point of dispensing   otherwise the signed original prescription is required. 

If you currently use Medtech 32 or Medtech Evolution, MyPractice, Indici, Medimap Profile for Windows, Elixir Medical Software, Waikato DHB Clinical Workstation, TrakCare or Expect Maternity Software and you’re not already on NZePS (i.e. generating prescriptions with an NZePS barcode), please contact onlinehelpdesk@health.govt.nz with NZePS in the subject line to begin the process of prescribing with NZePS.

This waiver is enduring, unlike the temporary waiver for non NZePS systems, and is expected to be codified in the legislation before January 2023, at which point the waiver will no longer be required. 

Signature Exempt Prescription for a Controlled Drug

Regulations relating to the prescribing and dispensing of Controlled Drugs are made under the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Director-General does not have the ability to authorise an alternative form of prescription under those regulations.

Prescriptions for Controlled Drugs (Class A, B and C – except for exempt or partially exempt Class C Controlled Drugs) as defined by the Misuse of Drugs Act, and must still meet the requirements in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations:

  • NZePS Class A, B and Class C prescriptions require a physically signed prescription to be sent to pharmacy within 2 working days of the prescription date, unless it is an exempt or partially exempt Class C Controlled Drug, as defined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
  • Non-NZePS Class B controlled drugs require the Controlled Drug triplicate forms to be completed and sent to pharmacy.

Exempt or partially exempt Class C Controlled Drugs, as defined under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, are covered by the authorisation for Signature Exempt prescriptions.  See Appendix 2 for Class C Controlled Drugs that are NOT exempt or partially exempt.