Sask. Ministry of Health give timeline of health professional work expansion

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health said it is following through on a previous announcement to expand the range of services that pharmacists, advanced care paramedics, and nurse practitioners can provide patients.

The ministry said changes will come over the next year as it works with stakeholders to amend policies and regulations.

The Saskatchewan government said pharmacists will be able to independently prescribe, as well as order lab tests and conduct point-of-care testing, like drawing a blood sample to help patients manage diabetes or cholesterol.

Nurse practitioners will have extended privileges for admitting and discharging patients in some hospital areas. They’ll also be able to examine long-term care patients and be responsible for medical care, treatment and death certificates of residents.

Advanced care paramedics will be able to perform suturing for lacerations, cuts and minor wounds.

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The province had said on Feb. 2 that it would be looking at making these changes.

Click to play video: 'Sask. to introduce expanded roles for pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics'

Sask. to introduce expanded roles for pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics

“These changes will empower our highly qualified pharmacists, nurse practitioners and paramedics, giving them the opportunity to make greater use of their skills and expertise to further support patient care,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said.

“Enhancing scope of practice will enable Saskatchewan pharmacists in hospitals and communities to serve patients with pharmaceutical care and medication management in a safe and timely manner,” said Amy Wiebe, president of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals Council.

“These changes will help build primary care capacity, ease health care system pressures, and improve access to care for patients.”

She said there have been steps to broaden the scope of what pharmacists can do over several years, noting that this is an evolving process.

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Wiebe said pharmacists have been reliant on practitioners who could prescribe to make changes to medications people were taking no matter how small the change was.

“One of the things that we are seeing now is that there are a number of medication shortages which are occurring across the country.”

She said pharmacists would need to call practitioners to change over prescriptions to similar, but technically different medications if the prescribed medication was not available.

Wiebe said it’s still early in the planning of these changes, but she anticipates that there will be different levels of care in terms of what pharmacists can offer, and that additional training will be needed in some cases.

Click to play video: 'Pharmacist shortage throughout Canada, Saskatchewan: Health experts'

Pharmacist shortage throughout Canada, Saskatchewan: Health experts

Cassandra Leggott, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners, said nurse practitioners will be able to provide a continuity of care for patients with these changes.

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“The expansion of Nurse Practitioner scope of practice to include admission and discharge privileges brings Saskatchewan Nurse Practitioner scope of practice on par with other Canadian jurisdictions,” Leggott said.

Jacquie Messer-Lepage, executive director and registrar for the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics, said advanced care paramedics will be able to offer more effective care.

“From rural and remote locations, clinics, and hospitals, ACPs (Advanced Care Paramedics) are now able to offer support and immediate care in more situations. As ACPs continue to provide an essential touchpoint in delivering vital care around the clock, the optimization of their scope of practice is a crucial step in achieving better, more streamlined health care outcomes for all,” Messer-Lepage said.

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