EDMONTON — The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons has laid out new rules for prescribing opioids.
Starting April 1, physicians will have to justify their prescribing decisions based on documented patient assessments.
The college says doctors must also be cautious about putting patients on opioids and must discuss with them the pros and cons of the medication, as well as other treatment options.
The college is also requiring that doctors check an independent source for a patient's medical history and only prescribe a minimal dosage in the meantime.
Registrar Dr. Trevor Theman says opioids pose a significant health risk and doctors need to ensure they are prescribing responsibly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Vancouver discussing the opioid crisis there and said over-prescription of such drugs is contributing to the problem.
"We certainly need to continue to do a good job of creating parameters for prescriptions around opioids," he said Friday. "There's no question that it's a part of the problem.
"This problem goes a lot further than that. The easy access to fentanyl and carfentanil now is a real challenge for people living with addictions. We understand it's a complicated, complex issue that will only necessarily have complex and complicated answers."
Theman said there may be cases where a doctor prescribes higher than the recommended dose which might be completely justifiable.
"What we’re concerned about are scenarios where there is limited or no rationale for the treatment."
The Canadian Press