Unit of competency details

HLTPHA012 - Dispense prescriptions and medication orders (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes HLTPHA003 - Assist with dispensing of prescriptions and medication ordersNon Equivalent. Unit code, title and terminology updated. Changes to performance criteria, performance evidence, knowledge evidence and assessment conditions. 24/Nov/2022

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 25/Nov/2022


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 060501 Pharmacy  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 060501 Pharmacy  08/Feb/2023 
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Unit of competency

Modification History

Not applicable.


This unit of competency describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to accept and check the validity of prescriptions and medication orders, and to assist an authorised person by preparing labels, assembling products and completing documentation.

This unit applies to hospital or health services pharmacy assistants and technicians working under the supervision of an authorised person.

The skills in this unit must be applied in accordance with Commonwealth and State or Territory legislation, Australian standards and industry codes of practice.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.

Pre-requisite Unit


Competency Field


Unit Sector


Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element.

1. Accept order for dispensing.

1.1. Receive prescription or medication order and complete and confirm patient details.

1.2. Identify the prescriber and initiate source for the purpose of costing and data entry.

1.3. Read documentation to confirm the legality, validity and completeness of the prescription or medication order.

1.4. Follow procedures to deal with contraventions of law.

1.5. Identify if patient is eligible to access the medication through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

1.6. Identify and report discrepancies to an authorised person.

1.7. Provide information to patient about dispensing expectations in terms of availability, time and cost, including alternative dispensing options if there are delays or medication availability issues.

2. Ensure clinical evaluation by an authorised person.

2.1. Complete required documentation in accordance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) or organisational policies prior to dispensing.

2.2. Refer prescription or medication order to an authorised person for clinical evaluation.

2.3. Confirm an authorised person has completed a clinical evaluation before filling the order.

3. Prepare for labelling of medication.

3.1. Enter dispensing data into the pharmacy dispensing application or system and check accuracy against documentation.

3.2. Follow procedures to deal with contraventions of law.

3.3. Generate label, and cautionary and advisory labels to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

3.4. Check information on labels for accuracy and clarity against dispensing requirements including any requirements for externally sourced compounded products.

3.5. Alert an authorised person about any relevant warnings from the pharmacy dispensing application or system.

4. Assemble items.

4.1. Interpret prescription or medication order requirements and refer to an authorised person where details or quantities are unclear.

4.2. Select prescribed products in the correct quantities of each item, according to prescription or medication order, ensuring expiry date is appropriate.

4.3. Use barcode scanning technology during the dispensing process according to Pharmacy Board of Australia Guidelines for Dispensing Medicines.

4.4. Pack and label correct quantities into a suitable container with correct and clear labelling.

4.5. Check packed item for accuracy and visibility of expiry date.

4.6. Check package integrity to ensure sterility of externally sourced compounded products.

4.7. Annotate the prepared order, written or electronic, with the quantity supplied, signature and date, ready for checking by an authorised person.

4.8. Self-check work to ensure accuracy of assembled items.

4.9. Arrange items for an easy and complete check by an authorised person.

5. Finalise dispensing of medication.

5.1. Verify that prescription or medication order is checked and signed by an authorised person.

5.2. Ensure prescription or medication order is stored appropriately prior to collection or delivery.

5.3. Complete accurate final documentation.

5.4. Record relevant information and statistics according to workplace requirements.

Foundation Skills

Foundation skills essential to performance are explicit in the performance criteria of this unit of competency.

Unit Mapping Information

Supersedes and is not equivalent to HLTPHA003 Assist with dispensing of prescriptions and medication orders.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=ced1390f-48d9-4ab0-bd50-b015e5485705


Assessment requirements

Modification History

Not applicable.

Performance Evidence

Evidence of the ability to complete tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit in the context of the job role, and:

  • use The International System of Units (SI) and the most recent Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook (APF) to accurately process at least 10 patient discharge lists and 100 items from prescriptions and medication orders following workplace procedures and safe dispensing practices
  • identify issues outside scope of own practice and refer to an authorised person
  • perform the activities outlined in the performance criteria of this unit during a period of at least 240 hours of work related to hospital or health services pharmacy support in a clinical workplace environment. These 240 hours may be applied collectively across all units of competency that include the requirement for workplace hours for the purposes of assessment.

Knowledge Evidence

Demonstrated knowledge required to complete the tasks outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit:

  • National, State or Territory, legal and ethical requirements, for dispensing prescriptions, and how these are applied in organisations, including:
  • codes of conduct
  • duty of care and implications of negligence
  • privacy, confidentiality and disclosure
  • records management
  • rights and responsibilities of workers, employers and patients
  • specific legislation:
  • medication and their use
  • the practice of pharmacy
  • different schedules of medication and pharmaceutical products
  • work role boundaries including responsibilities and limitations
  • work health and safety
  • organisational standard operating procedures (SOPs) relating to dispensing of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), non-PBS, SAS prescriptions and medication orders
  • legal requirements for dispensing of medication:
  • information requirements on prescriptions and medication orders
  • requirements to be satisfied for a complete, unambiguous and valid prescription or medication order and actions to take if validity is questionable
  • specific requirements for dispensing controlled medication
  • Pharmacy Board of Australia Guidelines for dispensing medication
  • key information in standard pharmaceutical references and their use by pharmacy assistants, including:
  • Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary Handbook (APF)
  • Monthly Index of Medical Specialities (MIMS) or AusDI Advanced
  • Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH)
  • Micromedex
  • dispensing procedures:
  • procedures and rationale for validating orders
  • types of discrepancies or potential issues found on prescriptions and medication orders, and how to respond to these
  • accepted self-checking processes to ensure accuracy
  • charging for pharmaceuticals including organisation policy and the PBS
  • legal requirements and principles of pharmaceutical product labelling
  • prescribing conventions, and abbreviations and medical terminology used for instructions for the use of medication
  • principles of calculations, weights and measures using the SI system
  • processes for reconstitution of products
  • properties of container types and principles of selection for use
  • features of pharmaceutical products:
  • methods of administration
  • common proprietary and generic names and their differences
  • medication forms, dose, strength and quantity
  • principles and procedures for maintaining their security
  • principles and range of storage requirements
  • product identification and handling, including those for:
  • formulary medication and non-formulary medication
  • products with the required integrity as well as those whose integrity has been
  • routine of handling products and products requiring special handling
  • relevant pharmacy dispensing application or system
  • infection control principles and their relevance to dispensing medication
  • specific labelling requirements for compounded products, including:
  • adherence to legislative requirements
  • name, form and strength of product
  • ancillary labels as part of label details
  • hazard warnings
  • spacing for entry of batch numbers and expiry dates
  • packaging methods, container materials and principles for selection
  • storage and transport requirements and rationale for different types of product including:
  • hazardous materials
  • special storage considerations:
  • humidity
  • isolation
  • light
  • temperature
  • ventilation
  • features and use of pharmacy systems used for aseptic compounding
  • circumstances that require compounding of the product within a laminar flow hood or clean room or cytotoxic drug safety cabinet or cytotoxic suite or room or isolator
  • environmental and WHS standards for waste disposal.

Assessment Conditions

Skills must be demonstrated in the workplace with the addition of simulations and scenarios where the full range of contexts and situations have not been provided in the workplace.

Assessment must ensure access to:

  • use of suitable facilities, equipment and resources, including:
  • weighing and measuring equipment
  • prescriptions and medication orders
  • pharmaceutical references
  • modelling of industry operating conditions, including time constraints for completing dispensing activities
  • access to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • authorised person with whom to consult.

Assessors must satisfy the Standards for Registered Training Organisations’ requirements for assessors.


Companion Volume implementation guides are found in VETNet - https://vetnet.gov.au/Pages/TrainingDocs.aspx?q=ced1390f-48d9-4ab0-bd50-b015e5485705