British Columbia

B.C. doctors treat swine flu by telephone

As health officials in British Columbia brace for a resurgence of the H1N1 swine flu virus, the province and B.C. Medical Association have agreed the province's doctors will be paid to diagnose and treat swine flu over the phone.

As health officials in British Columbia brace for a resurgence of the H1N1 swine flu virus, the province and B.C. Medical Association have agreed the province's doctors will be paid to diagnose and treat swine flu over the phone.

Under the agreement, doctors will receive a $14.74 payment for telephone advice regarding the highly contagious virus and a $31.15 fee for office visits.

The new office-visit fee is the same as the regular fee for office visits, but it won't be subject to current provincial rules limiting doctors to seeing about 50 patients daily.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall says both new codes are temporary and will offer increased access to care and the option of telephone advice is a sensible alternative to having swine flu patients visit a doctor's office.

Family physicians and specialists have been able to claim for H1N1 telephone advice since Oct. 1, but the office-visit fee code won't be enacted until Kendall advises that swine flu cases have outstripped seasonal flu cases.

now