British Columbia is the second province to review how auto-accident victims are assessed after The Globe and Mail identified problems with the practice across the country.
The province's public insurer, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, says it is reviewing the list of doctors who can assess accident victims – and says it has already removed one doctor from the roster.
The Globe earlier this month reported on concerns involving independent medical evaluations, IME, finding some injury-assessment firms and doctors created medical reports that were found to be inaccurate, unfairly biased against victims or even ghostwritten by staff at the assessment firms.
Ontario announced last week that it would set up "independent" assessment centres.
Injury lawyers have said claimants who face unfair or inaccurate doctor reports end up feeling intimidated and exhausted and many settle for less treatment coverage than their own doctors feel they need.
In B.C., vehicle owners must purchase basic coverage through ICBC, though they can seek optional extra coverage from private insurers.
ICBC in a written statement said it is now reviewing the entire roster of doctors to ensure it is pro-actively removing practitioners of concern. It said it expects to complete its review within 90 days.
"In addition to responding appropriately to any discipline or sanctions put in place by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons, we will also now review how our IME doctors fared at trial and will consider removing them from our roster whenever there is compelling evidence or a perception of bias, or where doctors have failed in their duty to assist the court," it said.
ICBC said it has dropped one doctor, Martin Grypma, from the list.
When asked how many doctors are on the roster, the Crown corporation said there are approximately 700.
"We took immediate action … to stop any further appointments from being scheduled with this particular doctor and we have fully removed him from our roster," it said.
Dr. Grypma did not return messages seeking comment.
The Globe previously reported that Dr. Grypma, an orthopedic surgeon, has had his reports rejected by the courts more than a dozen times. Judges have described him as being "deliberately or grossly careless" in one case and "misreading" an accident victim's records in another, while being "argumentative" and "incorrect." Another judge called his evaluation "ill-considered and superficial."
Dr. Grypma works out of a hangar at a suburban Vancouver airport, where he keeps his private plane. Over the past eight years, he billed B.C.'s public auto insurer $1.8-million, which hired him directly, not through a middleman firm. He also earns more by working for at least three assessment companies, The Globe reported earlier this month.
The Ontario government announced last week that it would establish "independent" assessment centres where medical professionals examine accident victims and advise insurance companies on what treatment and support they need.
The B.C. government, when asked if it would follow Ontario's lead and implement changes, said: "Independent medical examinations are work done outside the public health-care system by physicians."
It said the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. is responsible for oversight of physicians.
The college said it does not anticipate any changes involving IMEs in the near future.
"Every complaint or concerning report that is received by the college is investigated," it wrote in a statement.
"Most complaints relating to IMEs are from patients who take issue with the opinion. Following investigation, the inquiry committee of the college would be critical of a medical expert if their opinion did not fall within the range of acceptable, given the facts of the case."
The college said its investigations have determined "most physicians approach the provision of expert opinions in a comprehensive and ethical manner."
However, it acknowledged none of the IME-related complaints it has received since 2012 stemmed from a court ruling in which a judge was critical of a physician. When asked if the college should take a more pro-active approach, it said complaints can come from lawyers, patients or media reports.
It described its process as "effective."
With a report from Kathy Tomlinson