Medical Resident Prescribing: Do you know your limits?

Collette D. Messenger, Prescribing Corner Leave a Comment

To ensure patient safety, medical residents need to understand and respect the limits on their practice, including restrictions on prescribing.

Medical residents are allowed to assess and treat patients only under the supervision of a physician and only within their postgraduate training program. This applies to both hospital and community-based rotations.

With respect to prescribing:

  • Residents ARE allowed to provide prescriptions for inpatients or outpatients seen at a clinic as part of their training program. This includes triplicate prescriptions if the resident is registered with the Triplicate Prescription Program (TPP). Registration with the TPP requires approval of the Program Director and the resident must use their own personalized TPP pad.
  • Residents ARE NOT allowed to prescribe for any individual who is not a patient of their supervising physician and not receiving care within the resident’s postgraduate training program.

Any physician – including residents – may be asked to prescribe for family or friends, often for convenience or for minor issues. All physicians, including residents, are reminded that the Code of Ethics discourages such practice as it is in the best interest of family members and friends to have their health needs met by their primary care provider.

Physician prescribing guidance:

  • CMA Code of Ethics Limit treatment of yourself or members of your immediate family to minor or emergency services and only when another physician is not readily available; there should be no fee for such treatment.
  • CPSA Code of Conduct, Responsible Behavior (d) “refrain from providing care to individuals where a dual relationship exists and objectivity may be challenged.

Questions or comments? Comment below or email info@cpsa.ab.ca.

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