Providing Continuity of Care for Patients during a State of Emergency

VANCOUVER, July 18, 2017 /CNW/ -

BC is facing the one of the worst wildfire seasons in more than a decade, causing many to need to leave their homes. To ensure a coordinated response and ensure public safety, the Province of British Columbia declared a provincial state of emergency on July 7, 2017.

With over 14,000 people displaced from their communities, pharmacies have an important role to play in providing continuity of care for patients affected by the wildfires. During a state of emergency, pharmacists are able to provide a drug without a prescription to ensure the health and safety of the public.

Professional Practice Policy 25 – Pharmacy Disaster Preparedness outlines what's expected of pharmacists in providing continuity of care for patients during a state of emergency. Pharmacists are required to use their professional judgement, thoroughly document any medications they provide and communicate with the patient's prescriber as soon as possible. PharmaNet also plays an important role in supporting continuity by allowing a pharmacist to review a patient's prescriptions and medication history regardless of what pharmacy a patient typically uses.

Patients who have been displaced by the wildfires can visit a pharmacy near them to access an emergency supply of medications they may need. The College's Find a Pharmacy tool can help patients locate a pharmacy in the community where they are staying.

Pharmacy managers should reach out to the Emergency Program Coordinator for their community to ensure they are aware of and participate in local plans.



Pharmacy Disaster Preparedness


  1. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Health Professions Act, the Pharmacy Operations and Drugs Scheduling Act, the Regulation and the bylaws of the College of Pharmacists of BC made pursuant to these Acts or any other provision of law, a pharmacist in good faith may furnish a drug without prescription in reasonable quantities during a declared state of emergency to further the health and safety of the public.

  2. If a drug is provided in accordance with point 1 above, a record containing the date, name and address of the person to whom the drug is furnished, and the name, strength and quantity of the drug furnished must be maintained. The pharmacist shall communicate this information to the patient's prescriber as soon as possible.

  3. The Registrar may waive pharmacy licensure requirements (pertaining to minimum equipment, minimum space, sanitary facilities or any other licensing requirements) and issue a temporary pharmacy licence to a licensed pharmacy required to relocate because of a declared state of emergency.

  4. It is the responsibility of each pharmacy manager to approach regional emergency preparedness coordinators and be aware of and participate in local plans. Pharmacy managers should develop more detailed individual disaster plans for their own pharmacies (beyond the regional plans).


For questions related to providing continuity of care for patients during a state of emergency, contact the College's practice support at



SOURCE College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

For further information: Media Contact: Gillian Vrooman, Director, Communications and Engagement, College of Pharmacists of British Columbia, 778-991-4204,


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