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Prescribing Controlled Substances Consultations

Results of CRNBC consultations on prescribing controlled substances.

 Results from our consultations

posted Dec. 6, 2013

The draft standards, limits and conditions on narcotic and controlled substance prescribing created by our Nurse Practitioner Standards Committee were reviewed this fall. The consultations included several focus groups. As well, one-on-one individual conversations continue with NPs who could not attend a focus group.

Consultation participants

We had a good level of interest in the consultations, with NPs, educators of NPs, and NP leads in the health authorities taking part. Participants from urban and rural and remote areas across BC shared their views. We also heard from diverse practice settings, from primary health care to hospital-based specialities. We sincerely thank everyone who took part in the consultations for their excellent comments on the draft.

Key findings

  • Having a required education course provides assurance of a common foundation of knowledge as well as credibility in relation to the prescribing authority.
  • Establishing education requirements early will allow NPs to be ready for when the prescribing authority is in place.
  • NPs supported the concept of mentorship noting that in some practices settings, it can be challenging to accomplish.
  • NPs identified that the draft standards, limits and conditions thoroughly address prescribing for pain. However, further consideration is needed for prescribing narcotics and controlled substances for indications other than pain.
  • NPs appreciate the availability of best practice guidelines but many did not feel that the scope of practice document was the best place to access them in practice.
  • Many would prefer to have access to a list of recommended guidelines and resources which are applicable to practice.
  • NPs want full direct access to Pharmanet and support this being in place before NP narcotic and controlled substance prescribing is introduced. However, there was concern about lack of Pharmanet access delaying the implementation of the new prescribing authority. 
  • The need for supportive quality assurance mechanisms to support the prescribing authority was identified.
  • NPs had a number of specific questions about the inclusion and/or exclusion of certain drugs. We are consulting with the pharmacy sector to clarify in the next draft of the prescribing standard. 

Next steps

The input provided will be reflected in a revised standard that will go to the Nurse Practitioner Standards Committee in the New Year for their consideration. We hope to implement the new authority in January 2015. 


If you would like more information, please contact Chris Daly, Nursing Policy Consultant at 604-736-7331, ext. 304 (1-800-565-6505).

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