Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Calgary Doctor Admits to End-Running Booking Rules, but Not to Bump Up Patients

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Calgary Doctor Admits to End-Running Booking Rules, but Not to Bump Up Patients

Article excerpt

Calgary doctor denies queue-jumping patients

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CALGARY - A high-ranking Calgary doctor at the centre of queue-jumping allegations conceded Monday he booked his patients outside the normal routine, but said he didn't realize that would move them to the front of the line.

Dr. Ron Bridges told Alberta's preferential access inquiry Monday that he was not clear on the rules for booking patients into the publicly funded Colon Cancer Screening Centre, which he founded in 2008.

Bridges, a gastroenterologist, said he booked referrals through senior managers at the centre rather than faxing the referrals through the booking clerks, as per normal procedure, because he didn't know the booking clerks.

"In five years you've never taken the time to find out who the booking clerks are at the clinic that you founded?" asked inquiry lawyer Michele Hollins.

"I don't know who the booking clerks are, no," said Bridges.

Bridges is an associate dean of medicine at the University of Calgary and the inquiry has already heard he holds considerable stature in the medical community.

But he said he didn't realize that by sending his patient-screening requests through senior brass, those patients were then getting fast-track treatment.

"I'm just trying to help people get into the system," said Bridges.

But why not simply tell those patients to follow the rules, asked Hollins.

"What prevents (those patients) from going to their family doctor like anybody else has to, faxing in a referral, and waiting the appropriate time?" asked Hollins.

"Many people don't have family doctors," replied Bridges.

"What are all of the other people supposed to do? Can anyone without a family physician call you up?" asked Hollins.

"If they phone me I will try and help them access the system."

Clerks at the colon cancer clinic, better known as the CCSC, have testified that from 2008 to 2012, at the direction of senior management, they slotted in Bridges' low-risk patients for colon cancer screening within weeks while the normal wait for everyone else was three years.

CCSC assistant manager Olga Koch has testified she booked the fast-track slots for Bridges even though he didn't have any authority out of her respect for him and his title. …

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