Frequently Asked Questions
The NSPMP tracks the utilization of monitored drugs in the province and provides reporting and support services that promote good prescribing practices and inform research activities.
The collection of prescription data will inform prescribers and other program stakeholders about prescribing practices and use of the drugs in Nova Scotia. These learnings can help to reduce associated risks such as interactions with other medications, over-sedation, and potential injury or overdose.
When was the NSPMP established?
In June 2005 the Prescription Monitoring Act and its Regulations established a Prescription Monitoring Program to promote the appropriate use of monitored drugs in Nova Scotia and to reduce the abuse or misuse of monitored drugs in the province. The legislation also established a Prescription Monitoring Board to develop and operate the Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Program (NSPMP).
As part of the Program’s Mission, the NSPMP:
- Acts to protect public safety and support best practice in patient care, while maintaining the confidentiality of personal information;
- Respects and support healthcare and law enforcement professionals in their work;
- Serves as a resource for our stakeholders;
- Strives for innovation in our work based on industry best practice methods and processes.
In addition to its monitoring activities, the Board interprets the legislation to include:
- Guiding and supporting prescribers, dispensers and the general public on the appropriate use of monitored drugs;
- Collaborating and developing working partnerships with other key organizations in order to achieve the Program's mandate; and
- Sharing information in a timely and responsive manner to support the role of others in promoting, educating, and enforcing the appropriate use of monitored drugs and the reduction of the abuse or misuse of monitored drugs.
What is the role of the NSPMP?
The role of the NSPMP is to track utilization on an ongoing basis. We review reports on drug utilization and request information from prescribers to assist us to more fully understand the context of the prescribing of monitored drugs. If a concern is identified, the program provides direction on reviewing these matters. We would typically begin by reviewing the patient profile and history to gain a better understanding of the situation. Each situation is reviewed on a case by case basis and depending on the concern will determine the process that is taken by the Program. An example of how a concern is sometimes handled would be when one of the program's Consultants contacts a prescriber to discuss the situation or concern. Concerns can also be shared with law enforcement and the licensing authorities. It is important to remember that there are thousands of Canadians every day who rely on prescription drugs to treat chronic pain or manage illnesses. A balanced approach is critical to ensure that we are not addressing the issue of abuse/misuse in a way that interferes with patient care.
Do you monitor drugs administered in hospital settings?
No. We only monitor drugs dispensed at community pharmacies.
I don't want any of the prescriptions I get filled to be monitored by the NSPMP. Can I opt out?
Provincial legislation requires that all prescriptions for monitored drugs filled in a pharmacy in Nova Scotia be included in our monitored data.
Can the NSPMP share my prescription information with law enforcement?
Provincial legislation supports the sharing of prescription information with law enforcement if there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed related to monitored drugs.
Can the NSPMP report individuals filling prescriptions for monitored drugs to law enforcement?
If there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed, the Program must provide to the appropriate law enforcement authority all necessary information including: an identification of the drug(s) in use, the number of prescriptions dispensed, and the number of prescribers.
What information can the NSPMP give to my prescriber or pharmacist about me?
The NSPMP encourages prescribers and pharmacists to review patient prescribing histories prior to prescribing and dispensing monitored drugs. The Program can provide a hard copy patient profile upon request. Prescribers and pharmacists can also access patient profiles 24/7 using NSPMP’s online e-Access portal. Patient profiles include: prescriber information, pharmacy information, medication details. and dispense dates.
Why do I have to sign something when I pick up my prescription for my medication?
NSPMP legislation requires pharmacists to confirm the identity of individual’s receiving prescriptions by obtaining a signature in the “REC’D BY” section on the duplicate prescription form. The legislation also gives pharmacists the authority to confirm the identity of the person picking up the prescription. The medication can be picked up by a delegate (family member, friend, delivery service) but a signature and ID will be required.
Who needs to register with NSPMP?
Community pharmacists and prescribers (physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners) who intend to dispense or
prescribe narcotics, stimulants, or benzodiazepines are required to register with NSPMP to acquire a NSPMP ID.
How do I register for NSPMP?
We have streamlined the registration process to make onboarding easy: prescribers can now register for the program, acquire an e-Access account, and order duplicate pads in a single step. Applicants can visit the Registration & Request Forms page to complete a downloadable form to send to the Program team. Confirmation of registration typically takes one to two business days to complete.
How long does the registration process take?
Confirmation of registration is usually completed within two (2) business days.
I am a NSPMP provider but I do not have an e-Access account. How do I sign up?
In order to be eligible for e-Access, prescribers and pharmacists must be registered with the NSPMP.
For existing providers: Copies of our new Program registration forms are available for download from the website or can be requested from a NSPMP team member. Once the NSPMP receives the completed registration and user agreement form, an e-Access username and password will be issued.
For new providers: As of October 3, 2018, new providers will receive an e-Access account automatically when they register with NSPMP.
I am an out-of-province prescriber with patients who live in Nova Scotia. Will the prescriptions I write be accepted at Nova Scotia pharmacies?
All prescribers must be registered with the NSPMP prior to issuing prescriptions for monitored drugs intended for dispense at Nova Scotia pharmacies and prescriptions for narcotics, stimulants, and testosterone must be written on a tamper-resistant NSPMP duplicate pad.
We’ve posted a new registration form designed specifically for out-of-province prescribers on our NSPMP.ca website.
Can I use the Nova Scotia DIS and SHARE portals instead of e-Access to retrieve patient profiles?
Yes. The DIS also has a secure and convenient e-Prescribe function. Please note that DIS/SHARE registration and troubleshooting are supported by the DIS team (email: [email protected]).
What is e-Access?
The NSPMP e-Access portal is a secure online platform that provides prescribers and pharmacists with near
real-time patient profiles. Using the NSPMP e-Access platform offers substantial benefits to prescribers:
- e-Access is available 24/7 using a secure sign-in via the NSPMP.ca website;
- patient prescription data is updated hourly, thereby providing near real-time access to pertinent prescribing history from the last 18 months, and
- e-Access is easy to use with customizable, print-friendly records.
Do I need to install new software?
No new software is required. e-Access is available by clicking the e-Access Login button in the top right of this website.
Am I able to share my username and password with a colleague?
Usernames and passwords are unique to each user. This confidential information is NOT permitted to be shared. Prescribers and pharmacists interested in using the eAccess web application must first register with the NSPMP.
Do I need different e-Access accounts for different clinic locations?
No. Your individual e-Access user ID and password can be used at
any clinic location.
What if I forget my user ID (A######) or password?
Your user ID (A######) can be obtained and your password
updated 24/7 from the e-Access login page.
What if I’ve been locked out of my account?
Call 902-496-7123 (option #1) Monday to Friday (8am-8pm) for assistance with locked accounts.
What date ranges are available for patient profiles?
e-Access provides a default date range which is three months of claims history from the date of login. Users have the ability to select alternative date ranges up to a 18 month period, using the calendar icons.
For a date range greater than 18 months, users must contact the NSPMP during business hours.
Where can I download the eAccess User Guide document?
You can download the eAccess User Guide (PDF) here.
Is the claim information available in eAccess up to date?
The eAccess application will provide claims for monitored drugs in real time. The exception to this will be between the hours of 4am and 7 am, Monday through Sunday. The patient profile will still be available for viewing; however, claims entered during this time period will not be processed or appear on the patient profile until after 7 am.
I am unable to locate my patient's profile. Why?
- The patient has not had a prescription for monitored drugs, dispensed at a Nova Scotia Pharmacy, in the time frame selected
- The search criteria may not have been entered correctly. Please ensure that the correct cardholder identity and the patient Health Card Number have been entered
If issues continue please contact the NSPMP for assistance.
When are duplicate pads required?
Duplicate pads are required for all monitored drugs except for benzodiazepines. Prescribers do not need to order duplicate pads if:
a) they only prescribe benzodiazepines (benzodiazepines will be issued on regular prescription pads)
b) they use the e-Prescribe function offered with the provincial Drug Information System (DIS)
Is there a cost to ordering pads?
The cost of printing and mailing the duplicate prescription pad is covered by the NSPMP.
Does Nova Scotia have an e-Prescribe option?
Yes. Our partners at the Nova Scotia Drug Information System (DIS) have developed an innovative and secure e-Prescribe feature for prescribers. Please note that DIS/SHARE registration and troubleshooting are supported by the DIS team (email: [email protected]).
How do I report a lost or stolen duplicate pad?
Please contact the NSPMP with information regarding lost or stolen duplicate prescriptions or pads. When appropriate, an alert maybe issued to pharmacists and/or prescribers. Stolen pads should be reported to Law Enforcement.
What should I do with my unused duplicate pads if I retire/relocate?
As outlined in Section 18 of the Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Regulations:
A prescriber who is no longer prescribing monitored drugs must return any unused prescription forms to the Administrator no later than 5 days after the date they stop prescribing monitored drugs.
In keeping with the Program's mandate to promote the appropriate use of monitored drugs, proper pad return/disposal supports our shared commitment to public safety by limiting opportunities for forgeries, misuse and diversion.
The unused pads can be returned to:
Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Program
230 Brownlow Ave, Dartmouth, NS, B3B 0G5
or disposed of via a secure and confidential shredding service. If relying on a shredding service, please send written notification via mail (above), email ([email protected]) or fax (902-481-3157). The notification should include the following:
- Name of prescriber
- NSPMP ID number
- Date of disposal
- Number series for each pad (located on the pads under the NSPMP ID number
Please retain completed prescription records (pink copy) as part of your patient files.
I am a prescriber and would like to access a new patient’s history of prescriptions filled for monitored drugs. How do I obtain a patient profile?
Prescribers and pharmacists can now access patient profiles in one of two ways:
Registered providers can login to the e-Access secure web application and generate a patient profile independently.
By contacting the NSPMP by telephone to request a complete patient profile. This information can be faxed directly to an office or pharmacy.
Reviewing a patient’s prescribing history is part of a best practice approach for prescription monitoring programs.
As outlined in the NSCN Nurse Practitioner Standards of Practice 2018 (Standard 4: Client Care Management; Section 4.8), Nurse Practitioners are required to:
Use available drug information systems [such as e-Access] to verify history of clients’ prescribed medications, including controlled drugs and substances, when initiating, changing or discontinuing medications.
As outlined in the CPSNS Standard (Review of Monitored Drug History before Prescribing (December 2017)) it notes:
When caring for patients in episodic, urgent or emergent care settings, physicians or delegates, where the delegate is a regulated health professional within the patient’s circle of care, must review the patient’s drug profile as maintained by the NSPMP prior to prescribing narcotics or any controlled drugs or substances.
Regardless of the care setting, the College considers the information available through e-Access to be part of the patient record. Physicians are required to be familiar with its contents.
And as outlined in the CPSNS Standard (Initiation of Opioid Therapy for Acute Pain) it notes:
- Check the Nova Scotia Prescription Monitoring Program (NSPMP) for the medication profile of patients before prescribing opioids.
Can the NSPMP report prescribers or pharmacists to their professional regulatory authority?
If the Program has reason to believe that a physician, dentist, nurse practitioner or pharmacist may be practicing in a manner that is inconsistent with the mandate of the Program, the Program may refer the case on to our Practice Review Committee (PRC) for peer-based assessment. The PRC will choose to refer the individual to their licensing authority or redirect the case to one of the Program consultants for further review and coaching.
I am a prescriber and have recently received a Drug Utilization Review (DUR) Request from the NSPMP. I am being asked to send information about my patient to the Program. Can I send this information without the consent of my patient?
Under Section 18 of the Prescription Monitoring Act, prescribers are required to provide the Program with information as long as the information provided achieves the objects of the Program. The objects of the Program are to promote:
(a) the appropriate use of monitored drugs; and
(b) the reduction of abuse or misuse of monitored drugs.
The prescriber can therefore provide information about any of the following: the prescribing of monitored drugs; the compounding of monitored drugs; the dispensing of monitored drugs; the utilization of monitored drugs; clinical records, and a patient’s chart.
I am a community pharmacist and I am concerned with a practice concern of a prescriber. How do I proceed with my complaint?
The NSPMP accepts complaints from individuals regarding the prescribing or practices of a prescriber (physician, dentist or nurse practitioner), pharmacist, or pharmacy in regards to monitored drugs. These complaints may be reviewed by the Program’s Practice Review Committee (PRC). A complaint can be made by completing a standard form or by contacting our Program staff. All information is confidential and outcomes are not released. Complaints may be anonymous if requested. To file a complaint, please contact us and refer to the Complaints policy.
May I reach out to NSPMP’s Medical or Pharmacy Consultant to discuss a patient or practice concern?
Yes. We encourage all prescribers and pharmacists to access our Consultant resources when support is needed. Dr. Peter MacDougall, NSPMP Medical Consultant, or Lillian Berry, NSPMP Pharmacist Consultant, can be contacted by telephone or email.
Why is it important to monitor benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines are sedating medications that can interact with other medications to cause over-sedation and potential injury or overdose. The NSPMP has monitored other controlled drugs for many years and has a strong reputation for helping prescribers, pharmacists, law enforcement and others understand how drugs are prescribed and used in Nova Scotia. Integration of these drugs into the Program’s data collection is another enhancement that will benefit our stakeholders and the residents of Nova Scotia.
How is NSPMP benzodiazepine data and information used?
The role of the NSPMP is to track drug utilization on an ongoing basis. The program will record all prescriptions of benzodiazepines filled at community-based pharmacies. The data will be available through the Nova Scotia Drug Information System (DIS) and also via the NSPMP’s e-Access portal. Like with other monitored drugs, the goal is to promote good prescribing practices and support patient care.
When did the NSPMP begin to monitor Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepine dispensing data was integrated with NSPMP monitored data on Saturday, October 20th, 2018 at 12:01am.
IMPORTANT: As of October 20th 2018, all Nova Scotia and out-of-province prescribers will be required to register with NSPMP and be assigned a NSPMP ID prior to prescribing benzodiazepines. Without a NSPMP ID, benzodiazepine prescriptions will be held at the pharmacy
Will benzodiazepines be written on duplicate pads?
No. Benzodiazepines will be written on regular prescription pads. Prescribers are required to register with the NSPMP but will not be required to order duplicate pads unless they are prescribing other monitored drugs.
Will prescribers be able to complete benzodiazepine prescriptions via verbal order at the pharmacy?
Yes. The regulations linked to benzodiazepines prescribing will remain the same.
Program registration required? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Check e-Access before prescribing? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Duplicate pad required? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: No)
Verbal orders allowed? (Narcotics, Stimulants: No) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Faxed prescriptions to pharmacy permitted? (Narcotics, Stimulants: No) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Transfer of prescriptions permitted? (Narcotics, Stimulants: No) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Subject to peer/professional complaints to NSPMP? (Narcotics, Stimulants: No) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Subject to practice review? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Subject to referrals to licensing bodies? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Included in law enforcement reviews? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Included in drug utilization review activities? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
Included in the risk score assessment? (Narcotics, Stimulants: Yes) (Benzodiazepines: Yes)
How will monitoring benzodiazepines impact pharmacies?
The technical changes will be implemented via the provincial Drug Information System (DIS) and will not affect the operations of pharmacies. If your pharmacy receives a prescription from a prescriber without a NSPMP ID, please refer them to the Program for assistance with registration.
What prompted the NSPMP to integrate benzodiazepine data?
We are proud of the progress we have made with the Prescription Monitoring Program, which has seen many enhancements over the years. This expansion in data collection is the next natural step for the program and follows consultations with program stakeholders including governments, prescribers, pharmacists, law enforcements and prescription users. Further, the monitoring of benzodiazepines was advocated by the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre in its independent quality review of the NSPMP in 2016.