ACP has received numerous inquiries from regulated members and other health professionals about pharmacies identifying and advertising their services as a “pharmacy walk-in clinic.”
If a pharmacy team chooses to use the concept of “clinic” when identifying or advertising their pharmacy, they must hold themselves out as a pharmacy and differentiate their services from that of a medical clinic. In other words, if the term “clinic” or “walk-in clinic” is used in the advertising for a pharmacy, the word “pharmacy” must also be used (e.g., “pharmacy walk-in clinic”) and it must be abundantly clear that the walk-in service is a part of the licensed pharmacy (e.g., “pharmacy walk-in clinic at [pharmacy name]”).
Nothing has changed for the advertising requirements and restrictions for pharmacy. Pharmacies and regulated members must not engage in advertising that is untruthful, inaccurate, or otherwise capable of misleading or misinforming the public. Pharmacy teams must not advertise their “clinic” services or services they provide as pharmacy professionals in a manner that a member of the public could reasonably expect to receive the services of a physician, or from a physician, when they access the pharmacy.
Pharmacy teams using the concept of “clinic” must also ensure that regulated members on the pharmacy team have the competencies necessary to deliver and take responsibility for the services they say they can provide to the public. It is critical that pharmacists only provide services within the pharmacists’ scope of practice and reflect on their own personal competencies and limitations when providing services to individuals. Pharmacists should not provide services they are not competent to provide or that are outside of the profession’s or their scope of practice. This includes knowing when to consult with or refer an individual to another healthcare provider.
Professional services remain the same
It is important to note that no changes have been made to ACP’s standards, the Foundational requirements: Guidance document for opening a licensed pharmacy, nor the scope of practice for pharmacists to allow for pharmacist practice beyond their existing scope of practice. There have been no changes to permit pharmacies that identify or advertise themselves as “pharmacy walk-in clinics” to operate outside that of any licensed community pharmacy. These pharmacies offer the same professional services that may be offered in any community pharmacy.
Some pharmacies identifying or advertising themselves as “walk-in pharmacy clinics” have added more private consultation rooms in the patient services area of their pharmacy for pharmacists to conduct patient assessments. However, the patient services area of a pharmacy must continue to be directly adjacent to the dispensary.
Important points to remember
Pharmacies have always offered walk-in services to their communities and, since 2007, pharmacists with additional prescribing authorization have been able to initiate drug therapy for individuals. What remains critically important for pharmacists who assess individuals and prescribe medications is that they
- understand the limitations of their personal competence when assessing individuals and provide care within those limitations;
- conduct complete assessments, and only treat individuals when they have sufficient information to make informed decisions; and
- continue to collaborate with other members of an individual’s health team to ensure optimum care is being provided.
Whether a pharmacy team identifies its pharmacy as a “walk-in pharmacy clinic” or not, the same level of care can be provided to the public by any community pharmacy, with regulated members practising within their scopes, complying with the standards, and living the Code of Ethics. These will contribute to Albertans consistently receiving safe and quality care.