Pharmacy oversight to increase and government liability for legal injury lawsuits to decrease under proposed legislation

New legislation if passed could update pharmacy accountability mechanisms and change the amount of liability the province has in legal injury lawsuits in Alberta.

Proposed amendments contained in Bill 65, the Health Statutes Amendment Act (Spring 2021) were unveiled Thursday by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

If passed, the government says the bill will help Alberta’s health system remain efficient and ensure public dollars are used wisely.

More accountability for pharmacies is one of the goals of the legislation by granting the Alberta College of Pharmacy more oversight to guarantee compliance with provincial laws, licensing requirements, and regulations.

Government’s legal cost exposure when participating in unsuccessful injured claimant lawsuits for recovering health-care costs will be lowered.

The amendment will outline requirements for pharmacy information systems and record handling to ensure pharmacies better manage and safeguard patient records.

The bill will add references to legislation to include pharmacy technicians working within the pharmacy system in regulations to ensure they are accountable for the level of care they provide.

Additionally, the bill would clarify the rights of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to fill prescriptions for animals.

For Shandro, the changes proposed would help reduce red tape and provide better outcomes to Albertans using pharmacies.

“These proposed amendments continue the government’s work to update and to strengthen our province’s health legislation,” Shandro said. “The proposed changes would help make Alberta’s health system serve Albertans better by supporting more transparency and continued improvement.”

PHARMACY ACCOUNTABILITY TO INCREASE: ALTA. COLLEGE OF PHARMACY

According to Shandro, many of the amendments proposed were brought forward through advocacy work from the Alberta College of Pharmacy.

Dana Lyons, president of the Alberta College of Pharmacy, said in a news release that the changes will maintain the quality of service Albertans receive while using pharmacies.

“The proposed amendments will better enable the college to oversee pharmacy operations and practices in a manner that protects and serves the public interest. These respond to significant changes in pharmacy practices, ownership and operations, and provide a better framework for regulating these in a consistently changing environment.”

FATAL INQUIRIES TO RECEIVE MORE INFORMATION

Further changes include providing judges at fatality inquiries with access to facts from health-system quality assurance committees for what the government believes will lead to more comprehensive reviews and effective recommendations.

These committees exist within healthcare providers and authorities like Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, Surgeons of Alberta, and may be struck at any health facility like a nursing home or hospital.

"It’s important for the Alberta government to move forward on critical recommendations that came directly from judges at fatality inquiries who have previously requested access to information from quality assurance reviews,” Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said in a news release sent Thursday.

“This will help support and strengthen the work of fatality inquiries in preventing deaths, while protecting the confidentiality of medical professionals.”

The proposed changes in Bill 65 would also make car insurance companies penalties for not meeting reporting deadlines discretionary, meaning government could waive late-filing penalties in extraordinary circumstances like natural disasters.