Message From Shenda

A Message from Shenda: Minor Ailments Prescribing Supports Accessible Patient Care

Picture of OCP Registrar and CEO Shenda Tanchak
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We are two months away from authorization for Ontario pharmacists to prescribe for minor ailments. This is big news for Ontario patients and a health system that is experiencing bottlenecks at every turn.

Last week we released the Orientation for Minor Ailments Prescribing module for Part A pharmacists. This mandatory module reminds you of your ethical, legal and professional obligations when prescribing. None of the obligations are new, but we know that familiarity with guidelines and standards can slip over time and now is the time to make sure you are absolutely clear on what they are. You will also want to review the updates to the Initiating, Adapting and Renewing Prescriptions guideline, currently available in draft.

What is different now is that once you start offering these services, everyone will be watching how pharmacists perform. Some patients will be worried about whether you are the right provider for minor ailments. Some other healthcare providers might not be comfortable. And some stakeholders will be watching, wondering whether there is an opportunity for further authorization in future. So, you will need to cross your t’s and dot your i’s.

More importantly, though, you need to continue to cherish patient safety above all else. Last month I wrote about a tiny slip-up that could have led to a catastrophe. Following the guidelines protects you from errors (and College inquiries) and patients like me from potential harm. The busier you get, the more you should rely on the guidelines and standards to keep us both safe.

Finally, some are wondering why there is no assessment of competency required for pharmacists who wish to prescribe for minor ailments. In lay terms, the answer is that you’ve been competently performing most aspects of this service for years. While January 1, 2023 brings authorization for prescribing, pharmacists have been assisting patients to get care for things like rashes, cold sores and urinary tract infections all along. The difference is that today those patients must be sent to another healthcare provider to get a prescription to access the medication they need. On January 1, that changes, which will help make the system more efficient and ensure patients get the care they need more quickly.

The College will be collecting data about the safety and efficacy of this new authorization, and I look forward, in coming years, to sharing evidence demonstrating how pharmacy professionals once more stepped in and supported patients in getting the care they needed.

As always, please connect with us if you have questions or concerns.

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