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Can I choose any doctor I want?


Generally, you have a right to choose any doctor. Of course, the reality is that in many areas of the province there are a limited number of doctors. Except in emergency situations, a particular doctor does not have to accept you as a patient. You can visit the Saskatchewan Health Authority website for information about doctors who are accepting new patients in your community.

Many doctors limit the number of patients they take. Specialists often require a referral from your family doctor. These types of factors may limit your choice of doctors.

Doctors do not all offer identical treatments or services. There may be particular services or treatments that some doctors are not trained or qualified to offer. There may be services or treatments, such as abortions or circumcisions, which are morally or ethically unacceptable to some doctors. These factors may further limit your choice of doctors.

Doctors may not refuse to treat you for any discriminatory reason. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, creed, marital status, family status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, colour, ancestry, nationality, place of origin, race or perceived race, receipt of social assistance and gender identity.


Can I ask for a second opinion?


You have the right to seek a second opinion from another health care professional. Health care decisions are yours to make. You should get enough information so that you are comfortable with the decision you make.


Can I choose which hospital to go to?


Not all hospital facilities provide the same services. For example, 24-hour emergency service may not be available at all hospitals while services such as obstetrics may only be offered through a centralized location. Regional hospitals have a smaller range of available services than hospitals in Saskatoon and Regina. Local hospitals, in turn, offer a smaller range of services. Hospitals cannot provide services they are not equipped to handle.

Not all doctors have hospital privileges at all facilities and some doctors do not have hospital privileges at all. Doctors can decide for themselves whether or not to apply for hospital privileges. When choosing a family doctor, patients may want to consider whether a particular doctor has hospital privileges and, if so, where.

In some rural communities Collaborative Emergency Centres (CECs) are in place to provide 24 hour access to medical care, 7 days a week. A primary health care team offer extended daytime hours; overnight urgent care assessments and treatments are conducted by a registered nurse and paramedic, alongside phone consultations with physicians.


Who can provide medical treatment?


Your doctor or surgeon is generally responsible for providing treatment. Specially trained primary care nurses may also provide some basic health services, such as prescribing drugs, ordering diagnostic tests, and collaborating and making referrals to other health care professionals. Pharmacists can prescribe medication for minor ailments and prescribe birth control pills. They can also provide other services such as giving flu shots, and vaccinations needed for travel as well as managing some chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Other health care providers may carry out the doctor's order. For example, nursing staff may give you medicine prescribed by the doctor, or monitor your progress following an operation. Certain other health care professionals, such as physiotherapists or community nutritionists, are responsible for the services they give you and do not require an order from a doctor or primary care nurse.

If you disagree with or do not understand the treatment, you should discuss it with your doctor and other health care providers. It is your decision whether to accept or refuse the treatment.

Having a regular family doctor is associated with greater continuity of care and improved health outcomes. It is recommended that every Canadian have a family doctor.


Who pays for medical care?


Health benefits coverage is broad. While there are many, many fully covered services, provincial health care does not include all health care costs. You must generally pay for treatment such as physiotherapy, dental care, and eyeglasses, as well as costs for items such as crutches and wheel chairs, unless you are on social assistance. In addition, provincial health care does not pay for certain types of alternative treatment. Many people have private medical insurance, sometimes through their workplace, which pays for some of these treatments.

If your doctor thinks you need a particular treatment that is not available in Saskatchewan or another province, the government may pay the cost of getting the treatment elsewhere. With prior approval from the Medical Services Branch of Saskatchewan Health or the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, the full cost of treatment may be covered.

Canadians who need emergency medical treatment or hospital services while travelling outside Canada will generally be billed directly, but may be able to obtain a refund up to the Saskatchewan rate for those treatments or services. Canadians who go outside Canada to get non-emergency services or alternative medical treatments will have to pay the cost themselves. Private insurance is available for travel outside Canada.

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