Standards of Practice

Developed with patient safety and physician support in mind.

About the standards

CPSA’s Standards of Practice are the minimum standards of behaviour and conduct we expect from all physicians in Alberta. Standards are developed and updated in consultation with physicians, Albertans, the Minister Health and applicable partners. All standards must be approved by our Council before taking effect.

Are you up to standard?

Physicians, you are responsible for ensuring you understand our standards and how to meet them in your practice. Not only are standards of practice enforceable under the Health Professions Act (HPA) and often used in complaints resolution and disciplinary hearings, but when Albertans seek medical care, they should feel confident their physician is held to a high standard. See what we’ve shared with Albertans about CPSA’s Standards of Practice.

We currently have over 40 standards of practice, on topics ranging from prescribing to patient records to boundary violations.

Standards of Practice (alphabetical)


How and when a physician can promote the services they offer.

Boundary Violations: Personal

Expected boundaries for physician-patient and physician-learner relationships.

Boundary Violations: Sexual

Addressing the seriousness of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct against patients.

Cannabis for Medical Purposes

For physicians who choose to authorize cannabis for medical use for their patients.

Charging for Uninsured Professional Services

What is required when patients are charged for services not covered by insurance or public funding (e.g. elective medical procedures, form completion, no-show fees, etc.).

Closing or Leaving a Medical Practice

When a physician retires or leaves their practice, certain steps are required to ensure consistent patient care.

Code of Ethics & Professionalism

Outlines ethical expectations, so physicians can provide the highest standard of care, while fostering patient and public trust in physicians and the profession.

Conflict of Interest

Confirming and clarifying a physician’s duty to act in the best interest of their patient first.

Conscientious Objection

Balancing a physician’s right to follow their conscience and a patient’s right to accessible health care.

Continuity of Care

Ensuring patients receive the care they need, when they need it, particularly after-hours to prevent follow-up care failures.

Disclosure of Harm

If a patient suffers ill effects as a result of a treatment, they have a right to know and their physician has a duty to inform them.

Dispensing of Schedule 1 and 2 Drugs by a Physician for a Fee

Clarifying the circumstances under which a physician can dispense certain drugs for a fee.

Duty to Report a Colleague

If a physician knows a colleague has behaved in an unprofessional manner, they are required to notify the appropriate regulatory body. This standard also includes reporting guidelines for when a physician provides treatment to another physician or other regulated health professional.

Duty to Report Self

It is the responsibility of every physician to notify CPSA of incidents or circumstances that may impact their ability to provide safe care.

Episodic Care

Outlines the responsibilities physicians have to ensure patients are taken care of after a single encounter (like in an emergency room).

Establishing the Physician-Patient Relationship

Clarifying when an ongoing physician-patient relationship is established and it can be reasonably assumed a physician will provide care for a patient beyond a single appointment, and when a physician cannot refuse to establish a physician-patient relationship.

Human Health Research

Expectations of physicians participating in any research that involves Albertans.

Informed Consent

A physician must obtain consent and ensure the patient is fully informed and understands any medical examination, procedure or treatment before it takes place.

Job Action

Physicians may participate in job action only under extremely controlled circumstances.

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)

There is provincial and federal legislation that must be followed when providing medical assistance in dying.

Medical Services Requiring Accreditation Outside of Hospitals

Certain health services can be provided outside of a hospital, if the facility and treating physician have proper approval.

Non-Treating Medical Examinations

Expectations for physicians when examining an Albertan for legal, financial or insurance reasons.

Patient Record Content

It is the responsibility of all physicians to maintain accurate, up-to-date records of all their patient interactions.

Patient Record Retention

Expectations around the length of time records must be maintained, Information Sharing Agreements, Information Management Agreements, and Successor Custodians.

Practising Outside of Established Conventional Medicine

Formerly Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

For physicians who provide healthcare practices and products not currently considered established, conventional medicine.

Prescribing: Administration

Ensuring accuracy, security, safety and patient choice when writing prescriptions.

Prescribing: Drugs Associated with Substance Use Disorders or Substance-Related Harms

Physicians are encouraged to use good clinical judgment when prescribing medications that carry a higher risk of addiction or misuse.

Re-Entering Medical Practice or Changing Scope of Practice

If a physician wants to return to practice after an extended absence, or wants to change the type of medicine they practice, they must notify CPSA.

Referral Consultation

When a patient is referred to another physician, timely communication regarding appointments and follow-up is key so the patient receives proper care.

Relationships with Industry

When a physician develops a working relationship with a manufacturer of health care products, certain expectations must be fulfilled.

Relocating a Medical Practice

When moving practice to a new location, a physician must notify their patients and ensure their care is not impacted.

Reprocessing Medical Equipment

Preventing infection by ensuring any medical equipment used in a non-hospital setting is properly cleaned and sterilized.

Responsibility for a Medical Practice

Outline physician responsibilities to patients, physician colleagues and non-physician staff.

Responding to Third-Party Requests

When a patient or someone they’ve authorized to act on their behalf requests information, a physician must respond (generally within 30 days).

Safe Prescribing for Opioid Use Disorder

When treating a patient struggling with addiction, certain criteria must be followed.

Sale of Products by Physicians

Under certain circumstances, a physician can sell products related to medical treatment.

Supervision of Restricted Activities

Outlines the expectations of physicians who supervise others in providing restricted activities.


Like most things, health care is going digital. Know the expectations of physicians providing care through electronic communication.

Terminating the Physician-Patient Relationship

Outlines circumstances under which physicians can terminate patients from their practice.

Transfer of Care

Steps that physicians must take when they are transferring care of a patient to another practitioner.

How are Standards of Practice developed?

Under the Health Professions Act, we must consult with physicians, Albertans, the Minister of Health and other key partners to get their feedback on any new or amended standards of practice. Find out more about our consultation process.

Need a little extra advice?

Some standards are more complex than others. To provide you with support and to help ensure our expectations are clear and reasonable, we’ve developed several Advice to the Profession documents as an additional resource for your practice.

Unlike standards, advice documents don’t require approval from Council and can be updated at any time, so make sure you check back regularly to ensure you’re referencing to the most up-to-date resources.

Questions about the Standards of Practice?

Chantelle Dick, CPSA Standards of Practice Advisor

Phone: 780-969-4987
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 ext. 4987 (in Canada)