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BCCNM board approves revised limits and conditions related to RN/RPN prescribing for opioid use disorder


Feb 4, 2021

​The BCCNM board on Jan. 28, 2021 approved revisions to the limits and conditions related to RN and RPN prescribing for opioid use disorder. These changes come into effect March 1, 2021.

What has changed

The revisions to the RN and RPN scope of practice limits and conditions when prescribing for opioid use disorder include:

  • Broadening the limits and conditions to allow for the future expansion of RN/RPN prescribing for opioid use disorder beyond buprenorphine-naloxone (Suboxone) only

  • Adding a limit that the prescribing of controlled drugs and substances by RN/RPN prescribers is only for the purpose of treating opioid use disorder

  • Strengthening the limit and condition related to diagnostic testing specific to opioid use disorder to include review and follow-up of results

  • Strengthening the limit and condition related to consultation and referral

  • Clarifying that these limits and conditions also apply when the RN and RPN is compounding, dispensing or administering within their autonomous scope of practice (without an order), medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder

  • Successfully completing the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) training and preceptorship

Note that the limits and conditions when prescribing for opioid use disorder for both RNs and RPNs will be in effect until the Provincial Health Officer's order Registered Nurse and Registered Psychiatric Nurse Public Health Pharmacotherapy ends.

Note also that RNs or RPNs cannot give a client-specific order for another nurse to administer or dispense controlled drugs to treat opioid use disorder to a client if that other nurse is also not a prescriber.

Review the changes

Provincial collaboration

RN/RPN prescribing for opioid use disorder is a provincial-level initiative, and BCCNM is working closely with our partners at the Ministry of Health, Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC, and First Nations Health Authority.

In our role as the regulator, BCCNM is responsible for the development, communication and dissemination of standards, limits and conditions. The college also issues prescriber numbers and controlled prescription pads to nurses who meet all the necessary conditions, including successfully completing the required education and preceptorship via BCCSU. Only nurses who have been approved by their employer to take the training are eligible for BCCNM prescribing authority. Nurses should contact their employers for more information about how this is being implemented.

Questions?