Doctors should treat uncovered refugees, college head says
Physicians obliged to help 'underserved' patients, according to CPSA registrar
The head of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta is calling on doctors to see refugee patients even if they won't get paid to do it.
Ottawa dramatically scaled back the Interim Federal Health Program last June, changing health benefits for some refugees and cancelling coverage altogether for others.
As a result, more refugees are showing up in emergency rooms after being turned away by family doctors.
Trevor Theman, the registrar of the College of Physician and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), spoke out about the issue in a recent newsletter to doctors.
He said patients should never be turned away just because they cannot pay.
Theman said seeing a patient "from an underserved community is the right thing to do."
"The obligation of a physician to a patient is to consider the best interest of the patients first and that's got to override any questions of compensation," he said.
Dr. Carrie Hiscock, an ER physician in Calgary, agreed with Theman.
"We've taken an oath to care for patients. It's our job," she said.
Denying care could lead to a CPSA complaint against a doctor, or even a lawsuit, said Theman.