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.
Expected boundaries for practitioner-patient and practitioner-learner relationships.
Addressing the seriousness of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct against patients.
For practitioners who choose to authorize cannabis for medical use for their patients.
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.).
When a member of the profession retires or leaves their practice, certain steps are required to ensure consistent patient care.
Outlines ethical expectations, so physicians and physician assistants can provide the highest standard of care, while fostering patient and public trust in the profession.
Confirming and clarifying one’s duty to act in the best interest of their patient first.
Balancing a physician and physician assistant’s right to follow their conscience and a patient’s right to accessible health care.
Ensuring patients receive the care they need, when they need it, particularly after-hours to prevent follow-up care failures.
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.
Clarifying the circumstances under which certain drugs can be dispensed for a fee.
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.
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.
Outlines the responsibilities physicians and physician assistants have to ensure patients are taken care of after a single encounter (like in an emergency room).
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.
Expectations for participating in any research that involves Albertans.
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.
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.
Physicians and physician assistants may participate in job action only under extremely controlled circumstances.
There is provincial and federal legislation that must be followed when providing medical assistance in dying.
Certain health services can be provided outside of a hospital, if the facility and treating physician or physician assistant have proper approval. This standard was rescinded as of Oct. 1, 2022.
Expectations when examining an Albertan for legal, financial or insurance reasons.
It is the responsibility of all care providers to maintain accurate, up-to-date records of all their patient interactions.
Expectations around the length of time records must be maintained, Information Sharing Agreements, Information Management Agreements, and Successor Custodians.
Formerly Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
For physicians and physician assistants who provide healthcare practices and products not currently considered established, conventional medicine.
Ensuring accuracy, security, safety and patient choice when writing prescriptions.
Physicians and physician assistants are encouraged to use good clinical judgment when prescribing medications that carry a higher risk of addiction or misuse.
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.
When a patient is referred to another care provider, timely communication regarding appointments and follow-up is key so the patient receives proper care.
When a physician or physician assistant develops a working relationship with a manufacturer of health care products, certain expectations must be fulfilled.
When moving practice to a new location, patients must be notified to ensure their care is not impacted.
Outlines physician responsibilities to patients, physician colleagues and non-physician staff.
When a patient or someone they’ve authorized to act on their behalf requests information, a response is required (generally within 30 days).
When treating a patient struggling with addiction, certain criteria must be followed.
Under certain circumstances, a physician or physician assistant can sell products related to medical treatment.
Outlines the expectations when supervising others in providing restricted activities.
Outlines circumstances under which care providers can terminate patients from their practice.
Steps that must be taken when transferring care of a patient to another practitioner.
Like most things, health care is going digital. Know the expectations of providing care through electronic communication.
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?
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 (in Canada)