HEU calls for formal government audit of Vancouver surgeon’s billing practices
Physician’s actions also raise serious ethical concerns
The Hospital Employees’ Union today urged health minister Mike Farnworth to carry out an immediate investigation of the billing practices of Vancouver surgeon and private health care proponent Dr. Brian Day under the provisions of B.C.’s Medicare Protection Act.
Earlier this morning on CBC radio, Day brazenly admitted that he charged a $2,300 facility fee and billed the provincial Medical Services Plan for a knee surgery procedure for a Denman Island woman.
“This is a startling admission of illegality and confirms our suspicion that specialists like Day are openly violating the Canada Health Act and our Medicare Protection Act,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic. “The government has ample legal tools—including the audit process we’re requesting—to enforce its own legislation. It’s time for the minister to do so.”
Under the Protection of Medicare Act, doctors found in violation of the law face a range of penalties from fines to losing their billing privileges in the public system.
Bosancic says the refusal of Day and others to refer patients to other qualified specialists who have much shorter waiting lists raises serious ethical questions. She noted that one patient who recently went public with concerns about Day’s practices was able to have her knee surgery performed by another surgeon within a seven-week time frame compared to the year wait with Day.
“By only giving patients a choice between a long wait or immediate but costly out-of-pocket service at his private clinic, Day is in effect using high pressure marketing tactics which are banned in other consumer circumstances,” says Bosancic. She urged Victoria to move swiftly to ensure that British Columbians know they have options to be referred to other qualified specialists with shorter wait lists.
Bosancic says her union will closely monitor Victoria’s response, and may soon call for federal intervention to enforce the Canada Health Act.