The road to pharmacist prescribing in Alberta Health Services

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Abstract

Purpose

The implementation of policy within a health organization to support a new legislative and regulatory framework of pharmacist prescribing in the Canadian province of Alberta is described.

Summary

The evolution of pharmacists' practice activities to encompass medication management through independent prescribing authority has occurred in many jurisdictions around the world. In 2007, Alberta pharmacists were granted the most progressive scope of practice in all of North America. Pursuant to a series of legislative and regulatory initiatives enacted since 2000, the provincial health authority, Alberta Health Services (AHS), has worked to (1) establish a policy framework that supports pharmacist prescribing, (2) provide opportunities for pharmacist prescribing in both inpatient and ambulatory care practice environments, and (3) provide motivation and resources for AHS pharmacists to acquire “additional prescribing authorization” (APA) that enables them to independently prescribe and manage patients' ongoing drug therapy. Pharmacists with APA currently are permitted to prescribe all medications requiring a prescription, with the exception of opiates and other controlled substances; efforts to expand pharmacist prescribing to include those medications are ongoing. Currently, nearly half of all AHS pharmacists have APA. The health authority plans to make APA a standard expectation for all clinical pharmacists working in collaborative practice settings.

Conclusion

Opportunities provided to Alberta pharmacists by legislation have been embraced by the provincial health authority. The AHS leadership remains committed to ensuring that its pharmacists practice to the full extent of their scope of practice and actively encourages and supports them in their efforts to provide optimal patient care.

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