Let’s Talk About…

Referral Consultation

Helping patients receive timely care




CPSA Council is made up of practising physicians & public members who understand the frustrations of patients who have to wait a long time to see a specialist.

To help patients receive the most timely care, Council has approved new rules for how physicians manage referrals. While the changes won’t necessarily shorten waiting lists, physicians will be expected to streamline their processes and improve communications with each other and patients to eliminate any unnecessary delays.

Starting in January 2017, physicians will have to meet new timeframes for acknowledging and responding to referral requests. If you are asked to consult on a patient, you will have:

  • 7 days to acknowledge receipt of the request to the referring healthcare provider
  • 14 days to let the referring healthcare provider know whether you can accept the referral
  • 14 days to contact the patient to schedule an appointment or to confirm the status of the referral, if no appointment date has been determined
  • 30 days  to provide the referring healthcare provider with a written report after your first appointment with the patient

Consulting physicians will also need to be reasonably available to respond to referral requests and ensure their process is accessible.

Referring physicians will have to make sure they include all pertinent clinical information (including relevant investigation results) and purpose of the consultation with their request, to enable the consulting physician to determine whether he/she can accept the referral within the mandated 14-day timeframe.

These changes respond to growing public concerns about lengthy waits for specialist appointments, and also address a recommendation from the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s 2013 Continuity of Care study (Recommendation #2).

If your practice doesn’t currently meet these requirements, you will have until January 1, 2017 to become compliant.

Questions? Email Assistant Registrar, Professional Conduct michael.caffaro@cpsa.ab.ca