Pharmacists are not able to process prescriptions that have been emailed to a patient

The College continues to receive expressions of concern from community pharmacists who have received a prescription from a patient, which has been emailed to them from their prescribing physician or surgeon. 

Under existing legislation, which sets out expectations for pharmacy practice in BC, the only acceptable prescriptions that a pharmacist can process include:

  • a paper prescription with a wet signature from the licensed prescriber;
  • a verbal prescription order provided by the licensed prescriber to the patient’s pharmacist of choice; or
  • a prescription that has been faxed to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice by the licensed prescriber. 

The College appreciates during these extraordinary times that it is tempting to email a prescription to a patient out of convenience. This is not acceptable. Registrants are reminded that pharmacists have an obligation to comply with their prevailing laws, regulations, and professional standards just as they do. Hoping that the pharmacist might “bend the rules” places the pharmacist in an untenable situation. 

There are many patient safety concerns too. Emailing a prescription to a patient is, of course, dangerous as the information contained in that prescription is not always secure on an email server. Additionally, an emailed prescription can be printed out numerous times and may be filled more than once. And, while the pharmacist is taking time to obtain prescriptions by legitimate means, a patient may suffer while having to wait longer to get his or her prescription filled. 

Registrants should consider their pharmacist colleagues and their patients first over convenience, and use fax, phone, or mail to convey prescriptions as is required.