The Ministry of Health is currently still developing e-prescribing through PharmaNet. However, until e-prescribing is available, pharmacists are required to ask for an original or unique signature for each prescription.
Electronic prescriptions are only permitted if the electronic prescriber’s signature is unique. Health Canada considers a unique electronic signature to be equivalent to a paper and pen signature. Therefore the signature must be a fresh new signature written on the prescription with an electronic pen pad, similar to signing a pen and paper prescription. Cutting and pasting a signature into an electronic prescription is not permitted.
To ensure that that the signature is unique, the pharmacist should compare the signature each time with an old prescription. Pharmacists should note that the prescriber’s signature should be slightly different on each prescription if it is unique. If you do not have an old prescription to compare or have any doubts as to whether the signature on the prescription is unique, please call the prescriber to verify whether they sign a new original electronic signature for each new prescription. A computer-generated prescription, given to the patient or faxed to the pharmacy, must have an original prescriber’s signature.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons published an article ‘Updates from the Prescription Review Program’ in The College Connector – November/December 2013.
The College of Pharmacists is continuing to work with the College of Physicians and Surgeons on other areas of mutual concern with respect to written prescription including missing patient addresses, and illegible signatures and CPSID’s.