How to gain speedier access to a specialist

If you’re looking for expedited referrals for patients with accepted WorkSafeBC claims, the following process should ensure a timely response. Keep in mind that such appointments—for surgery or another form of consultation—are available only for elective cases.

Referral to community specialists 
Open WorkSafeBC claims with specific areas of injury require no prior authorization for referral to community specialists. To ensure a patient’s claim is open for health care benefits for a specific area of injury, go to, “Claims,” then “View claim information” under “Managing claims.”

In accordance with an agreement between WorkSafeBC and the BC Medical Association, specialists can be reimbursed for these visits, providing they see the patient and submit a consultation report to the referring physician, along with a copy to WorkSafeBC, within the designated timeframe. 

If you’re referring a WorkSafeBC patient to a community specialist, ensure the specialist is aware of your request for an expedited consultation. Send a referral letter as usual, and fax a copy to WorkSafeBC toll free at 1 888 922-8807, or in the Lower Mainland at 604 233-9777. 

Referral to the Visiting Specialists’ Clinic
If the community specialist is unable to expedite the appointment, or if you prefer a specialist’s opinion from WorkSafeBC’s Visiting Specialists’ Clinic (VSC) in Richmond, you can speak with a WorkSafeBC medical advisor about facilitating this referral for you. A WorkSafeBC medical advisor is required to write the referral note, based on internal authorization procedures. However, this referral is on your behalf, and you remain the responsible referring physician. 

The benefit of referral through the clinic is that VSC specialists can expedite elective surgery cases through access to specialized surgical facilities. While other community specialists might share similar access, the primary role of the VSC is to protect injured workers from needless disability caused by long waits for surgery.

At present, the following specialists provide care through the VSC: orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, a neurologist who can provide EMGs (or the VSC can expedite EMGs), physiatrists with expertise in spinal cord injury/amputation, a plastic surgeon for burn/wound patients, a urologist, and a general surgeon. 

If you refer your patient to a community specialist who works at the VSC, that specialist might ask the referral to be re-routed through the VSC. In this instance, you will need to contact a medical advisor at WorkSafeBC by phone or through request on a form F8/F11. The medical advisor can prepare a referral package on your behalf.

If your patient requires a referral to be re-routed to a psychiatrist for a non-urgent, claim-related psychiatric condition, you may be able to get help from a WorkSafeBC medical advisor.

At this time, the VSC is not accepting referrals for expedited consultations by sport medicine physicians. However, access to sport medicine physician examinations is available through WorkSafeBC’s Medical and Return-to-Work Planning (MARP) program. For patients who require diagnostic clarification and who are unlikely to require surgery, the MARP program might be a good option. Physicians who are part of the MARP program can also initiate referrals to the VSC.

Urgent or emergency situations
It’s important to note that the preceding referral scenarios are intended only for elective cases. If you have a patient with a clinically urgent or time-sensitive case, you would still need to personally contact the appropriate specialist and follow the same steps you would for any patient without a WorkSafeBC claim. 

If you have any questions about expedited referrals for injured workers requiring elective surgery or specialist consultation, please contact a medical advisor in your local WorkSafeBC office through Medical Services at 604 244-6224, or visit
—Janice Mason, MD, BSc, Dipl Sport Med (CASEM)
WorkSafeBC Medical Advisor, Victoria Office

This article is the opinion of WorkSafeBC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Janice Mason, MD, BSc, Dipl Sport Med (CASEM),. How to gain speedier access to a specialist. BCMJ, Vol. 55, No. 1, January, February, 2013, Page(s) 17 - WorkSafeBC.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply