Frequently Asked Questions
My doctor’s schedule is likely full for the day, now what?
It depends on how sick you are. If you are very ill please call and talk to our nurse. The nurse will help to make a plan. If the assessment is very concerning they may redirect you to the Emergency Room and will let your physician know. We can ensure that your medical information is available to the ER physician. The nurse will advise if you have to go by ambulance or private vehicle.
If it is medically serious but stable, they may be able to fit you in with your doc or another physician. If you are well enough to wait a bit we have a few other options for you:
- See our appointment section. You can phone early in the morning to see if there is a RAT appointment open.
- You can also attend the evening clinic.
- If we cannot accommodate you in any fashion, which is unlikely, you are welcome to go to any Walk-In clinic. Please ask them to forward us the visit note.
It is possible that your problem is urgent to you for various reasons, but not medically urgent and the sickest patients come first in medical triage if resources are at a limit.
I am running out of medication!
You may be able to get an appointment on short notice in the form of a RAT appointment or evening clinic appointment. You may however get an emergency prescription from your local friendly pharmacist for a week’s supply. This will give you adequate time to get an appointment.
I am running out of medication and I am out of town!
Things happen. Some patients are in camp longer than anticipated, visiting sick family and have to extend their stay, it fell into the ocean on vacation, the dog ate it etc. If you are out of town and unable to come in we will provide a short prescription to tie you over and can fax it to you where you are. There will be a $35 fee for this service.
Usually bigger chain pharmacies with branches in BC can fill the script. Physician licenses are provincial in Canada and prescriptions may not be accepted in other provinces. In such a case you may have to go to a local Walk-In clinic.
If you are out of the country you would have to see a local physician. We do not prescribe antibiotics or medications for acute conditions, this applies to chronic medications only for a known condition. We do not fill tranquilizers, sleeping medication or opioids without seeing a patient.
Why do doctors often run late?
- Physicians book 10 minute appointments on average. There are only so many physicians and many more patients in need of a physician. We have to help as many patients as we can.
- Wait times for specialists have become extremely long and thus family physicians have more on their plate to manage to keep patients well and functional. It is not an easy task.
- We have a record number of aging patients in our practices and patients with a constellation of very complex illnesses.
- Very often patients come with more than one problem. We try to solve the most urgent problems at hand, but this often leads to running over time. It is not always foreseen or manageable. Some patients want physicians to do everything on their list but are not aware that it leads to other patients having to wait longer unfairly.
- And sometimes bad things happen…. we may have to tell a patient that they have cancer. Somebody may feel moderately ill, but are diagnosed with an unexpected dangerous condition on the spot. We may have to call the ambulance and stay with the person until they can be transferred. Somebody may have booked for something mundane, but then admit they are suicidal.
- A child may need a bit more playfulness and time to allow an examination. We try to make them not scream which everybody should appreciate.
- Physicians have to take phone calls from specialists, the hospital and nursing homes in between seeing patients.
- Physicians do not take coffee breaks or lounge relaxed while you wait. If they run late it is for good reason and they know you are waiting and that your time is valuable.
- Why can’t doctors spend more time and bill for a longer visit? There is no such fee code to compensate for a longer visit or multiple problems. The system is imperfect and we advocate on an ongoing basis for better solutions.
I assume doctors make a lot of money. Why do they charge for forms?
Physicians renumeration is always a tricky subject. But maybe it is time to talk about it openly. Physicians earn relatively well due to their level of skill and education but not more than accountants, lawyers, engineers and pilots.
Most start their careers with staggering debt and at a later age than most other professionals due to the long years of study. Doctors do not get any benefits such as vacation pay, sick pay or pension. No work, no pay.
Family physicians have to provide the infrastructure for primary care and pay for everything except swabs and urine sample bottles, courtesy from the lab. They have to provide the clinic building and everything inside it. There is no funding for that and it comes from the income from consultations. In essence they run a small businesses, but have fixed prices set by government and cannot charge the customer (patient) more to make up for increasing expenses. Family clinics require a large staff corps including other professionals such as nurses, and salaries have to be competitive to retain staff in these tough economic times. Consultation fees increase with an average of 0.5% per year and staff increases follow cost of living which is much higher.
To give a simple analogy it is expecting a pilot to pay for the Boeing and air hostesses from their own income. Physicians do 3 hours of unpaid paperwork per day on average. This is usually done before and after clinic hours and at lunch time. It includes looking at lab results, checking X-Ray and scan results, writing referrals, doing chart reviews, answering messages, writing notes, reading consultations reports etc. This is not just on the patients they saw on the day but for any patient who belongs to their practise who had any health service anywhere. Most full time physicians have around 2000 patients.
The paperwork burden is immense and there is no payment for it. It is unpaid work, 3 hours a day, 15 hours a week. Physician burnout and suicide is at an all time high. There are several reasons for this but the paperwork burden contributes immensely.
Physicians bill for their time spent on uninsured services e.g. reviewing the charts, completing the forms, staff and office cost associated with completing and submitting forms. These services are not covered by Medical Services Plan. This includes insurance, legal, tax, employment and travel related forms. Offices follow the billing guidelines from the Doctors of BC.
Why do staff ask why I want to see a doctor when I book and appointment?
Staff ask for some indication of the reason for your visit to ensure they book you correctly. If there is a bladder issue they may thus anticipate that you may have to give a urine sample. They can also prepare the exam or procedure room properly to facilitate your visit.
Some visits such as drivers exams and procedures also involve the nurse and we need to ensure they are available too. We also ensure that we do not book the minor surgery procedure room for 2 doctors at the same time. You will never be asked to reveal information that you may feel is confidential between the doctor and yourself. If uncomfortable you can say that the reason is private or you want to see the doctor to talk.
- Your family physician will see you for confirmation of pregnancy and additional visits. Our physicians refer to family medicine colleagues or midwifes for further pre-natal care. High risk pregnancies will be referred to obstetricians. We will remain available to deal with all other health issues over the duration of the pregnancy. Your baby will automatically be taken on as a new patient.
- We also support patients’ reproductive rights and choices when they decide to pursue a termination of a pregnancy. We will refer patients to the local Fern Clinic or any other provider of choice for a medical abortion.
What if I have a lot of problems?
We will help you to prioritize and systematically work through all your concerns. Try this form to help organize your thoughts and set goals for us to accomplish together.
Make the most of your visit
I have a form for my physician to complete
I need a referral to a specialist or an allied health care professional
Sadly, many people now doubt vaccine safety and avoid vaccination. Vaccines are safe and effective. There is an abundance of solid scientific information to prove this. Fear mongering leads to vaccine hesitancy with subsequent renewed outbreaks of once near eradicated diseases. We would welcome discussing your fears and concerns in a non-judgemental manner. We are can discuss all childhood vaccines as well as adult recommended vaccines such as pneumonia, whooping cough and shingles.
How can I see my own results?
We will always review results with you in person if abnormal. You may obtain access to your lab results when you register at the lab or though myehealth. We would gladly print critical results for you to review later on occasion, but unfortunately cannot print everything for everybody.
I want to be the boss of my own health
What are the fees for forms, drivers medicals etc?
Please see the section on services and the Doctors of BC billing guide
I have a question or concern but I am afraid of wasting the doctor’s time
We do not think that patients ever “waste our time”. People often apologize for what they perceive to be silly things, but it worries them greatly and that alone is worth a visit for reassurance. Now and again it is actually something big and can be life saving. We would also rather tend to your concern than Dr. Google which tends to make people more anxious as it does not filter out what is irrelevant to them.