Physician Prescribing Practices

An educationally focused program that engages physicians by collaboration & advice to support safe patient care through better prescribing practices.

Improving your prescribing practice

CPSA believes in a quality improvement approach to prescribing that involves collaboration between physicians, CPSA team members and others with expertise in prescribing practices.

Physician Prescribing Practices is an educationally focused program that engages physicians through collaboration and advice to support safe patient care through better prescribing practices.

We share prescribing data in a number of ways (reports, letters, etc.) to encourage self-reflection and help physicians identify opportunities for improvement. Our goal is to connect physicians to information, tools and resources to promote best practice and support safe and effective care for their patients.

Our vision is to empower prescribers to provide the safest and most appropriate care to their patients by using data and evidence-based approaches, and to actively support patient-centered care, continuous quality improvement and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Prescribing FAQs

To see more FAQs about Prescribing, click on All FAQs and filter by "Prescribing"

All FAQs

What is the purpose of CPSA's prescribing program?

Our goal is to work with physicians, providing support and information to help resolve questions and concerns about prescribing. We work with physicians to collaboratively address concerns and complex patient situations, and share prescribing data in a number of ways (reports, letters, etc.) to encourage self-reflection and help physicians identify opportunities for improvement.

Can a prescription be faxed to the pharmacy?

Yes. Please refer to CPSA’s Prescribing: Administration Standard of Practice and Advice to the Profession.

Can a prescription have an electronic signature?

Direct authorization by valid signature is required to verify the authenticity of prescriptions.

Handwritten prescriptions given directly to the patient must be signed manually. EMR-generated prescriptions that are printed and given directly to the patient must be counter-signed with a “wet” signature.

EMR-generated signatures are only acceptable to pharmacists when the prescription is transmitted directly from the EMR to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice, as in the case of a fax. In a closed electronic system where transmission is by secure messaging, the password protocol is considered the prescriber’s direct authorization. The physician must log in and transmit the prescription themselves (i.e. may not delegate) in this case.

Can a physician provide a new prescription for a patient without seeing that patient?

Physicians may provide a new prescription for a patient without seeing that patient in-person in accordance with current recommendations for virtual care. For more information, refer to the CPSA guidance document for virtual care.

Can a physician phone in a prescription refill, or does he/she need to see the patient first?

If clinically appropriate, a physician may refill a prescription over the phone or fax without seeing a patient in person. Certain drugs cannot be verbally authorized or refilled as per regulations to the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act.

What requirements do I need to meet to prescribe methadone and/or buprenorphine/naloxone?

Please refer to our Opioid Agonist Treatment page for detailed information.

Does CPSA allow physicians to authorize cannabis for medical purposes?

Yes. Physicians may decide whether or authorizing the use of medical cannabis is appropriate for their patients. The physician must register with CPSA to authorize cannabis for medical purposes. For more information, please refer to Cannabis for Medical Purposes.

Will CPSA provide a list of physicians who prescribe specific drugs, such as methadone or narcotics, or those who authorize cannabis for medical purposes?

No. Specific details about the prescribing practices of individual physicians is not public information.

If a prescription is forged or stolen, can the police be notified and/or the prescription handed over to the police?

Yes. According to the Office of the Information Privacy Commissioner, the pharmacist is not providing a “health service,” and a forged or stolen prescription does not contain “health information.” Fraudulent alteration of a prescription in any material respect means that this form is no longer “health information” and can be disclosed to the police.

Can a physician own, or own interest in, a pharmacy?

Yes. However, there must be no conflict of interest. This means patients cannot feel coerced to purchase from that pharmacy,. A physician’s ownership in a pharmacy must not impact his/her prescribing practices.

For further guidance, please refer to the Prescribing: Administration, Conflict of Interest, Code of Ethics & Professionalism and Relationships with Industry Standards of Practice.

Are physicians allowed to write prescriptions for themselves or for family members?

No, except when another prescriber is not available for emergency services. Note: You cannot bill for this service.

For further information, refer to the CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism, Section 20.

We can help. Contact Physician Prescribing Practices.

Phone: 780-969-4935
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 Ext. 4935 (in Canada)