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Maintaining continuity of care

August 19, 2020

What to do if a patient presents a prescription written by a prescriber who has since passed away or retired.

The recent tragedy in a Red Deer medical clinic was a shock to the healthcare community across Alberta. While those closest to the situation recover, the event left many patients in central Alberta without a physician. Pharmacy teams in the region will be counted on to support those who were patients of the physician who passed away by ensuring continuity of care.

As a reminder, any prescription that was written by a physician who was licensed to practise medicine in Canada at the time the prescription was written is still valid. As with any prescription you are presented, you must ensure that the prescription is appropriate for the patient at the time you dispense.

Particularly in the case of refills, consider whether it is appropriate to fill refills on a prescription when the patient is not being monitored by a physician and, if appropriate, for how long. Your decision may have to take into account factors such as the difficulty the patient may have in finding a new family physician and the risk of going without a prescription medication. Remember that prescription refills are valid for a maximum of 18 months after the prescription was first filled.

In all cases, encourage the patient to find a new primary care provider.


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