PharmaNet expands throughout BC
VICTORIA – British Columbia announced that it will
expand its PharmaNet system to make medication histories available to
all authorized health professionals in hospitals and designated mental
health facilities. The move is expected to improve patient care and
safety, said Health Minister George Abbott.
PharmaNet is a secure, electronic network in British Columbia. It
protects patients from potentially dangerous medication errors,
duplications and dangerous combinations of different medications by
linking prescriptions to a central database.
PharmaNet currently links most emergency departments in B.C., all
community pharmacies, many hospital pharmacies, and many medical
practices, to a central database. Earlier this year, PharmaNet was
expanded to medical practices.
“By expanding PharmaNet’s access throughout hospitals, we can further
reduce potential duplications and avoid potentially dangerous drug
interactions,” said Abbott. “With the most relevant and accurate patient
information at their fingertips, health professionals can make the best
possible decisions about patient treatment.”
Expansion of access to hospitals and designated mental health facilities
of PharmaNet is supported by amendments to the Access to PharmaNet
Patient Record Information Regulation. The amendments will be
implemented early in 2007 after the necessary processes and procedures
are in place, including patient privacy and legal considerations.
Expansion of PharmaNet access to hospitals throughout the province is
supported by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
“A physician cannot always rely on a patient’s memory for an accurate
medication history. PharmaNet is the tool that physicians can use to
instantly verify a patient’s medication history,” said Dr. Heidi Oetter,
deputy registrar for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
“Connecting hospital doctors to PharmaNet will help improve the quality
of care and assist doctors to make more informed drug treatment
“This is wonderful news for all health-care providers, patients and
families in the province of British Columbia. Authorized access to a
patient’s outpatient medication record, using the PharmaNet system, will
support safer and more efficient care,” said Dr. Mary-Lyn Fyfe, medical
director of Clinical Informatics and Telehealth for the Vancouver Island
Health Authority. “Having the right information at the right time is
invaluable to physicians, nurses and pharmacists in making the right
decisions regarding patient treatment.”
PharmaNet’s strict privacy measures remain in place, with all accesses
to patients’ information logged, and all authorized users individually
identified. PharmaNet will continue to comply with the Province’s
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“PharmaNet actually improves patient privacy protection when compared to
paper records,” added Abbott. “As part of our comprehensive eHealth
strategy, we have tight restrictions around accessing the information –
every time that someone accesses the information, they leave an
The PharmaNet data expansion is a part of the ministry’s eHealth
strategy. This comprehensive set of initiatives and investments will
include significant advancements in PharmaNet’s capabilities, in
supporting pharmacists, and physicians in community settings as well as
hospitals, and eventually enabling citizens to access to their own