A snapshot of the Prescription Review Program

Referrals come to the Prescription Review Program (PRP) from a variety of sources: public, patients, other health-care professionals, other College departments, or other organizations. When a referral is received, program staff reviews prescribing patterns over the previous three months. The intention is to confirm that prescribing is safe and in alignment with current national guidelines and the College’s standard. Particular attention is paid to instances of co-prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines – especially multiple opioids and multiple sedatives, and of large dispenses (>250 units). Consideration is made for scope of practice, notably palliative medicine and addiction medicine. PharmaNet profiles cannot provide clinical context.

A current snapshot of activity in the PRP:

  • There are roughly 12,000 professionally active physicians in BC.
  • In 2017, the program has received 236 referrals. Of those referrals, only 90 were accepted for enrolment. Of the 146 that were not accepted, only four received a message from the College advising of instances that did not align with safe prescribing.
  • There are 287 files open in PRP (there are usually 250 to 300 files open at any given time), with 194 in early stages.

The PRP process was revamped in 2017 to provide enrolled physicians more opportunity in the early stages to provide clinical context, and time to institute changes that reflect safer prescribing practices. It is expected that the new process will allow the PRP to open fewer files, and to close files more quickly. 

More resources from the Prescription Review Program

Registrants looking for tools to manage their patients on controlled medications are encouraged to visit the Prescription Review Program section of the College website. 

One of the features is a selection of clinical papers, the Recommended Resources from the Drug Programs. This list is updated quarterly and registrants can contact the College library to receive any of these articles, free of charge.

Last year, the program added a section for patient information on the College website, which answers questions most commonly asked by patients and provides them with resources. This year, a Safe Prescribing Tool Kit, a checklist of things to consider when prescribing opioids, sedative/hypnotics, and stimulants, and tapering tools were added.

Feedback and suggestions can be provided at drugprograms@cpsbc.ca.