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Amendments to the Standards of Practice approved by Council

August 21, 2019
Updates to the definition of emergency and acceptable circumstances for insertion of instruments, devices, or fingers.

Council has approved amendments to the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (the standards), that will come into effect on September 15, 2019. Upon considering feedback from registrants and stakeholders, including other health professions and the Minister of Health, the standards have been amended by:

  • adopting a new definition for “emergency”; and
  • establishing a standard that limits the purpose and when it is acceptable for a pharmacist to insert or remove instruments, devices, or fingers beyond the anal verge or beyond the labia majora.

For the purpose of complying with the standards, “emergency” means a circumstance where a patient urgently requires a professional service that includes a restricted activity for the purposes of preventing imminent mortality or morbidity. While relevant to all standards, this definition is particularly relevant to Standards 11 (Complying with regulatory framework if prescribing) and 13 (Adhere to restrictions when prescribing in an emergency). By extension, it should be used to interpret Standard 6 (Implement a quality assurance program) of the Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies.

With the advent of Bill 21, and acute awareness to sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by health professionals, Council determined that it was in the interest of the public and the profession to establish a standard that clarifies the limitations of a pharmacist’s role when inserting or removing instruments, devices, or fingers beyond the anal verge or beyond the labia majora. The authority to perform this restricted activity came in effect in 2007 at inception of the Pharmacists Profession Regulation.  The profession sought this authority to enable pharmacists to meet patient needs in exceptional circumstances if other authorized professionals were not available to administer drugs via these routes.  As this was not observed as a “regular” role of pharmacists, only intended to be performed in exceptional circumstances, development of standards was not prioritized at that time.

This notice is provided to create awareness, and additional communication will follow in advance of the effective date.