It is the entire pharmacy team’s responsibility to ensure that all requirements regarding medication storage and release, as outlined in the Pharmacy and Drug Act1, the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (SPPPT)2, and the Standards for the Operation of Licensed Pharmacies3, are adhered to.
Prepared prescriptions—those that have been prepared, labelled, and packaged for a patient—must only be stored in the dispensary of a licensed pharmacy. Medication cannot be left for the patient’s self retrieval outside of the dispensary or at another intermediatory location for pickup.
Once all aspects of Standard 8 of the SPPPT have been met, medications may be released to the patient or their agent directly at the pharmacy, or the medications may be delivered to the patient by someone other than the patient’s agent1 (i.e., a delivery driver, courier, or other intermediary individual who does not have a close personal relationship with the patient).
Until the patient, the patient’s agent, or an authorized individual at an assisted living facility receives the prepared prescription, the regulated member who releases the prescription remains responsible for the security and integrity of the medication and the confidentiality of the associated patient information.
When offering medication delivery services, an additional consideration for the licensee of the pharmacy is whether a mail order licence is required.
Policies and procedures
The licensee must ensure there are documented procedures included in the pharmacy’s policies and procedures manual outlining the following items related to medication storage and delivery:
- assessing criminal record checks for unregulated employees (including delivery drivers),
- documenting records of the mode of delivery and audit trail of the delivery,
- maintaining the security and integrity of medication, and
- protection of patient information.
The licensee is responsible for ensuring these documented policies and procedures are in place. Every member of the pharmacy team has a responsibility to understand and adhere to these policies and procedures. Furthermore, the licensee must ensure there is a process for pharmacy team members to ask questions and to provide assurance that procedures are appropriately followed. Ensuring relevant policies and procedures are developed and adhered to will support pharmacy teams meet all requirements for patient assessment, medication storage, and medication delivery (if applicable).