More and more physicians are utilizing technology to manage their patient files, access information and generate prescriptions. As with all other prescriptions, pharmacists must still be able to ensure the authenticity of prescriptions that have been generated electronically and also be confident that the document presented to them has not been replicated or altered. As such, when prescriptions are generated using a computer or other electronic writing device, the following signature requirements must be met:
- Prescriptions generated electronically, printed and physically given to a patient for presentation at a pharmacy must include a valid, original, ink signature.
- As with rubber stamps, pre-signed forms or other signatures which are not distinct for each transaction, digital images of signatures do not fulfill federal requirements. They do not provide confirmation to the pharmacist that the prescriber attests to the accuracy of the prescription as a reflection of his intended order for that patient. Additionally, a pharmacist considering a prescription on which the signature was generated by a printer cannot confirm that this is the one and only copy of the order (as identical copies could have been produced by photocopy).
2. Prescriptions generated electronically and faxed directly to a pharmacy must either be:
a) printed, signed using a pen and transmitted to the pharmacy’s fax number from the physician’s or clinic’s fax machine, or
b) signed on the device using a stylus and transmitted to the pharmacy’s fax number from the electronic device.
- In this case, using the stylus still provides confirmation to the pharmacist that the prescriber attests to the accuracy of the prescription as a reflection of his intended order and since the prescription is being transmitted directly to the pharmacy, there is no concern that the prescription has been altered or copied.
3. Prescriptions may not be transmitted via email.
4. Though not currently available, work that will allow for e-prescribing through the provincial electronic health record is in progress.
NOTE: If the prescription is received via facsimile transmission, the pharmacist or pharmacy technician must ensure that all requirements of the Standards of Practice – Facsimile Transmission of Prescriptions are met