Standards of Practice

Developed with patient safety and practice support in mind.

About the standards

CPSA’s Standards of Practice are the minimum standards of professionalism and ethics expected from physicians and physician assistants practising medicine in Alberta. Standards are developed and updated in consultation with the profession, Albertans, the Minister of Health and applicable partners. All standards must be approved by our Council before taking effect.

Are you up to standard?

Physicians and physician assistants, 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 health provider 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 or physician assistant can promote the services they offer.

Boundary Violations: Personal

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

Boundary Violations: Sexual

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

Cannabis for Medical Purposes

For practitioners 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 member of the profession retires or leaves their practice, certain steps are required to ensure consistent patient care.

Code of Ethics & Professionalism

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

Conflict of Interest

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

Conscientious Objection

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

Continuing Competence

Throughout their careers, regulated members are required to maintain their competence and enhance the care provided to patients.

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 care provider has a duty to inform them.

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

Clarifying the circumstances under which certain drugs can be dispensed for a fee.

Duty to Report a Colleague

If a care provider 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 or physician assistant provides treatment to another physician, physician assistant or other regulated health professional.

Duty to Report Self

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

Episodic Care

Outlines the responsibilities physicians and physician assistants 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 care will be provided for a patient beyond a single appointment, and when a physician or physician assistant cannot refuse to establish a physician-patient relationship.

Female Genital Mutilation

Addressing the seriousness of Female Genital Mutilation and associated long-term health risks.

Human Health Research

Expectations for participating in any research that involves Albertans.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC)

Sets out the specific requirements regulated members must adhere to in order to prevent the potential spread of infection between themselves, patients and staff in clinical settings.

Informed Consent

A care provider 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 and physician assistants 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.

Non-Treating Medical Examinations

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

Patient Record Content

It is the responsibility of all care providers 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 and physician assistants 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 and physician assistants 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 member of the profession 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 care provider, timely communication regarding appointments and follow-up is key so the patient receives proper care.

Relationships with Industry

When a physician or physician assistant 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, patients must be notified to ensure their care is not impacted.

Responsibility for a Medical Practice

Outlines 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 response is required (generally within 30 days).

Restricted Activities

Outlines the expectations when performing and supervising the provision of restricted activities.

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 or physician assistant can sell products related to medical treatment.

Terminating the Physician-Patient Relationship

Outlines circumstances under which care providers can terminate patients from their practice.

Transfer of Care

Steps that must be taken when transferring care of a patient to another practitioner.

Virtual Care

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

How are Standards of Practice developed?

Under the Health Professions Act, we must consult with physicians, physician assistants, 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?

Phone: 780-423-4764
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 (in Canada)

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.