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What expectations should you have of your physician or surgeon when they see you?

Frequently asked questions

Every physician and surgeon in BC is required to provide up-to-date contact information. If a physician or surgeon has not updated their profile or informed us of an address change, we do not have access to their new contact information.

The College does not gather information from physicians and surgeons about whether they perform a particular procedure or have a specific expertise or focused area of practice beyond their formal academic credentials. 

Most often, patients are referred to a specialist by their family physician or nurse practitioner. Specialists enrolled in MSP in BC are typically referral-based consultants who accept new patients only through referral from another regulated health-care practitioner. In rare cases, an enrolled specialist may choose to provide MSP-insured services without referral and the patient may be required to pay the difference between the MSP-insured family physician/nurse practitioner visit and the specialist consultation fees. 

An unenrolled specialist charges the patient directly for all services. Such specialists may allow patient access without referral. These specialists are very rare in BC. 

Many specialists who provide uninsured services for which patients pay directly, such as cosmetic procedures, will choose to see patients without referral.

In most cases, a reasonable administrative fee will likely apply to cover photocopying costs, courier, staff time, etc. The physician or surgeon should provide an estimate of the copying fees in advance. (While Doctors of BC has provided fee guidelines, payment of fees is a matter between a physician/surgeon and the patient.)

If the record is requested by the patient for personal use, the physician or surgeon is entitled to collect the fee prior to providing the copy. Thirty days is considered a reasonable time frame for providing the copies.

There are a number of reasons why a physician or surgeon may choose to limit a prescription, including the nature of the drug, side effects, toxic effects, or the need for follow-up based on the patient.

When a medication is prescribed, the physician or surgeon has a responsibility to advise a patient about drug effects and interactions, side effects, contraindications, precautions, and any other information pertinent to the use of the medication.

Before automatically renewing a prescription, a physician or surgeon has an obligation to conduct a follow-up appointment, to assess the effectiveness of the medication, and determine whether a renewal is, in fact, necessary.

Who does what? Doctors of BC and the College

Doctors of BC and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC have differing roles and responsibilities in directing physicians and surgeons in BC.

Learn more about:

  • Which organization represents the medical profession
  • Which one runs quality assurance programs
  • Which one has voluntary membership
  • Who deals with complaints against physicians and surgeons
  • Which one to call for support if you have an issue with your health authority

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