While medical practice increasingly incorporates virtual care, the rules for prescribing have not changed. The Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) requires pharmacists to verify the authenticity of prescriptions and meet prescriber signature requirements. Physicians are encouraged to review the requirements laid out in the Prescribing: Administration Advice to the Profession, summarized below:
Acceptable forms of providing prescriptions:
- Computer-generated or hand-written prescriptions, hand-signed by the prescriber and issued to the patient, or faxed to the pharmacy.
- Computer-generated prescriptions with an electronic signature, initialed by the prescriber and issued to the patient.
- Prescriptions signed electronically, initialed and faxed directly to the pharmacy.
- EMR-generated prescriptions with an electronic signature, faxed directly to the pharmacy. Faxing directly from a password-protected EMR is currently the recommended electronic method of transmission. The password protocol is the prescriber’s direct authorization.
- A verbal prescription, issued directly from a prescriber to a pharmacist.
- Prescriptions stamped without a hand-written signature.
- Prescriptions emailed to the patient or pharmacy.
- Prescriptions issued to a patient or faxed outside of a closed EMR system produced by computer but not signed by the prescriber, or with an electronic signature not initialed by the prescriber.
We have received reports of prescriptions issued directly to patients without a signature, or with an electronic signature only. This makes it challenging for pharmacists to verify whether the prescription is an original or a counterfeit copy. A wet signature or hand-signed initials helps pharmacists with authenticating prescriptions, minimizes inquiries to you for verification and reduces the risk of prescription forgeries.
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