Continuity Of Care

Standard of Practice

Under Review: No
Issued by Council (After-Hours Access to Care and Preventing Follow-up Care Failures): January 1, 2010
Reissued by Council (Continuity of Care): June 11, 2015

  1. A regulated member whose practice includes established physician-patient relationships 1 must:
    1. have a system in place to:
      1. review test results and consultation reports in a timely manner;
      2. arrange any necessary follow-up care;
      3. notify a patient of any necessary follow-up care; and
      4. document all contacts with a patient, including failed attempts to notify a patient about follow-up care;
    2. directly provide or arrange for continuous after-hours care to be provided through an appropriate healthcare provider(s) and/or service with capacity to assess and triage care needs;
    3. ensure handover of relevant patient information to the after-hours healthcare provider(s) or service when a patient’s need for after-hours care is reasonably foreseeable;
    4. inform patients how to access the after-hours care;
    5. if using a recorded message to direct patients to a healthcare provider or service such as but not limited to Health Link Alberta, an emergency service or after-hours medical clinic, have evidence of an agreement with the identified healthcare provider or service; and
    6. notwithstanding clause (1)(e), immediately refer a patient with an emergent or life-threatening condition to an appropriate emergency service if unable to render care.
  2. A regulated member must have arrangements in place for receiving and responding to critical diagnostic test results reported by a laboratory or imaging facility after regular working hours or in the regulated member’s absence, which include:
    1. clearly identifying on the test requisition documents and informing the patient when the results are expected to fall in the critical range; and
    2. ensuring the laboratory or imaging facility is able to reach a regulated member or a regulated member’s designate, either by:
      1. participating in a call rota available to the laboratory or imaging facility that identifies who to contact in the regulated member’s absence and their direct contact information; or
      2. providing direct contact information to the laboratory or imaging facility for the regulated member or the regulated member’s designate.
  3. A regulated member whose practice includes established relationships with patients who is going to be unavailable for an extended period(s) of time must:
    1. enter into an agreement with an appropriate healthcare provider(s) and/or service to provide ongoing care during periods of unavailability and ensure handover at the start and conclusion of the coverage, including management of:
      1. outstanding tests and test results;
      2. outstanding referrals and consultation reports; and
      3. any follow-up care required as a result of the above;
    2. provide proof of this agreement to the College on request;
    3. inform a patient of ongoing care arrangements where a patient would have a reasonable expectation of being informed.

1In an established physician-patient relationship, both the regulated member and patient have a reasonable expectation the care provided will extend beyond a single encounter. These relationships include, but are not limited to: longitudinal relationships, based on the identification of a regular attending physician or clinic; and sessional relationships for a defined period of time, based on a presenting concern(s), referred consultation or identified medical condition.

About the Standards of Practice

The CPSA Standards of Practice are the minimum standards of professional behaviour and ethical conduct expected of all physicians registered in Alberta. Standards of practice are enforceable under the Health Professions Act and will be referenced in the management of complaints and in discipline hearings.


For questions or archived standards, policies and guidelines contact our Standards of Practice Advisor.

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