What's Up Doc? New Guidelines for Walk-in Clinics

By: 

Carly Charlebois

It no secret that there is a shortage of family doctors in the Victoria area. At TAPS we regularly hear from clients about their difficulty finding a family doctor—a significant barrier to folks who are trying to access benefits from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and require medical evidence to support their request. If you do not have a family doctor and rely on walk-in clinics for your medical care, then you might find the following helpful.

The Professional Standards and Guidelines for physicians in British Columbia were revised in April 2016, and include information on walk-in clinics and your rights as a patient.

If you do not have a family doctor, and are regularly visiting the same clinic, then you are considered to be receiving primary health care from that clinic. The doctors at that clinic are responsible for offering you continuous medical care, including health examinations and follow-ups.

If you want to receive long-term care, you must let the walk-in clinic know that you do not have a family doctor. If you go to the same walk-in clinic on a regular basis, then the doctor at the walk-in clinic should offer to be your primary care physician through a “verbal invitation”. After a few visits, if your doctor hasn’t offered to become your primary doctor, it is important that you request to become a regular clinic patient.

The new standard states that you do not get to choose a specific physician to provide you with care, but rather all of the doctors at the clinic will have access to your patient records and will collaborate to provide you with long-term medical care, including health examinations and follow-up, such as PAP smears, blood pressure checks and various screening tests.

So, if you’ve been to your walk-in clinic a few times and like the doctors there, make sure to request to be a regular clinic patient. Patients with complex or chronic illnesses should be able to depend on walk-in clinics for continuing care.

For more information on primary care multi-physician clinics go to: https://www.cpsbc.ca/files/pdf/PSG-Walk-In-Urgent-Care-Multi-Physician-Clinics.pdf.