Sick Notes for protesters

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4107
Sick Notes for protesters

Should the Doctors who wrote false sick notes for protesters be punished?

University of Wisconsin Considering Punishing Doctors Who Issued Sick Notes to Protesters
Some of the doctors at the University of Wisconsin who gave out sick notes to union supporters skipping work to protest face punishment ranging from written reprimands to docked pay and loss of leadership positions.

UW School of Medicine and Public Health issued a written statement saying it interviewed 22 doctors and cleared some of any involvement in the incident. University officials did not specify how many and said they would not comment.

"Personnel action will be based on the specific nature of the offense and the level of the physician's involvement," the statement said.

The doctors handed out sick notes to union supporters so they could protest on Feb. 19. against Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill calling for an end to collective bargaining for most state workers. Many were teachers who could be disciplined for missing work without a legitimate excuse.

The Medical Examining Board and state Department of Licensing and Regulation are also investigating the doctors.

The bill has not taken effect pending legal challenges. However, it could be inserted into the budget, which takes effect in July, now before the Joint Finance Committee.

A judge has blocked implementation of the collective bargaining law over questions about whether it was passed legally. Walker is counting on the law being in effect to save the state $330 million over the next two years through higher pension and health care contributions from state workers.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/28/university-wisconsin-considering-punishing-doctors-issued-sick-notes-protesters/

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4087

No.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

How can they prove the notes are false? Mental health day maybe?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1530

If they can be proven false then yes, they should be punished as well as the employee's that used the notes to get out of work.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Wait, is the question :

Should a Dr who committed fraud be punished? Uh, yes.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4087

What exactly does one do to get a sick note? I haven't needed one since I was about 20 & working in a restaurant, and then I had stitches in my hand so I'd actually been at the doctor's office, LOL. To get one for Tiven recently when I kept her home for three days with a really nasty cough that didn't respond to anything, I just called & spoke with a nurse. I explained Tiven's symptoms, how long she had them, told her how long I kept Tiven home, and a couple of hours later I had an email from the doctor with a PDF that I printed out & took to school the next day. I could have easily lied to the nurse & actually taken Tiven camping or to an amusement park. She couldn't have possibly known, and there was no need for an office visit for such a minor illness, so how could the doctor be held liable for my lie?

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4107

Well for one thing, if you are going to write false notes it might be a good idea if you don't do it blatantly and let the media videotape you doing it.

But last week some of these weary warriors carried their patient advocacy too far. In videos breathlessly presented throughout the conservative mediasphere this weekend [scroll down to see], doctor after doctor is videotaped writing patently fraudulent sick notes so that the protesting teachers (whose contracts specify that missing work without an excuse can result in dismissal) can keep marching on against the state's union-busting Republican government.

After viewing the videos at my request last night, Dr. Arthur Derse called me up exclaiming, "Holy mackerel! It's much worse than it looked in the paper. I'm stunned, absolutely stunned." Dr. Derse is the Director of Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities a the Medical College of Wisconsin. "When all's said and done, it's really the profession of medicine that has the black eye in this case," he says.

There is no question these doctors are masking political opinion in the white coat of the medical profession, Dr. Derse believes. "The videos are pretty damning."

It's sad, but what puzzles me most is how in the world three of the four physicians I can identify from these videos and other media reports are faculty members of UW's Family Medicine department, and one is a senior resident in that same department. It's a good training program, committed to providing sorely-needed primary care doctors to the state of Wisconsin. It teaches professionalism, and its faculty are supposed to model integrity. What were they thinking?

They've managed to belittle a public trust between physicians, employers and patients. A doctor's sick note is a serious document. It represents an employer's desire to verify through a respected, independent, medically qualified third party the fact of an illness and the true need for convalescence. In the videos now circulating online, we witness multiple members of a noted family medicine department trash one of the well-recognized rights and privileges of their profession, with little forethought as to the consequences.

UW's doctors have demeaned not only the doctor-patient relationship, but in so doing, risked the stature doctors hold in our discourse on public policy. When commenting on social issues, physicians trade on the honor of our profession, benefiting from the public's assumption that the wisdom won of caring for so many at their most vulnerable imbues us with some privileged understanding of collective need.

In one of the videos and a newspaper account, Associate Professor Lou Sanner says he's giving out sick notes for "stress" (not a medical diagnosis). He claims he's forming doctor-patient relationships in his slapdash street encounters with apparently healthy protesters. Besides his work in bioethics, Dr. Derse is an emergency physician, regularly tasked with determining fitness for work. He's offended by Dr. Sanner's thin claims. "I couldn't imagine just walking up to people with a stack of work excuses, 'What's your name? Here you go.' ... It reflects poorly on the practice of medicine, and it reflects poorly on physicians who actually do take the time and effort try to determine whether someone is ill and is legitimately away from work," he adds.

These doctors sacrificed a slice of the medical profession's credibility for a political cause. Was it worth it? The fallout is mounting.

Full article and videos here:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/02/wisconsins-real-doctors-and-their-fake-sick-notes-for-protesters/71500/

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

We should definately fine idiocy.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

I didn't watch the videos because I hate stupid "reporting" set ups like these, but providing a note for work excusing a patient for stress is entirely legitimate. What is unethical about that?

On a separate note, I think this is a great discussion of the role of health professionals, especially those trained to provide care for underserved and impoverished communities like this residency program, in the fight for social justice. I think this is part of their role, to support people's full health and that is not just about their bodies.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Rivergallery" wrote:

We should definately fine idiocy.

Are you calling these doctors idiots?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"CalBearInBoston" wrote:

I didn't watch the videos because I hate stupid "reporting" set ups like these, but providing a note for work excusing a patient for stress is entirely legitimate. What is unethical about that?

On a separate note, I think this is a great discussion of the role of health professionals, especially those trained to provide care for underserved and impoverished communities like this residency program, in the fight for social justice. I think this is part of their role, to support people's full health and that is not just about their bodies.

I disagree with this, Kate. I see how that argument *could* be made, but I also see how it could also be argued that this is a medical professional wielding their power as a DR to advance their own political purposes. I can see all sorts of ways that being okay with that because you like this misuse of power could be dangerous with other abuses. How about the anti abortion Dr telling women that their pregnancy tests came back negative hoping that they would not actually learn that they are pregnant until after the first trimester? That may be a bad example but I just slept for 11 straight hours and I'm not yet through my first cup of coffee Wink

FTR I have not watched the video either.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Potter75" wrote:

I disagree with this, Kate. I see how that argument *could* be made, but I also see how it could also be argued that this is a medical professional wielding their power as a DR to advance their own political purposes. I can see all sorts of ways that being okay with that because you like this misuse of power could be dangerous with other abuses. How about the anti abortion Dr telling women that their pregnancy tests came back negative hoping that they would not actually learn that they are pregnant until after the first trimester? That may be a bad example but I just slept for 11 straight hours and I'm not yet through my first cup of coffee Wink

FTR I have not watched the video either.

I don't see lying to a patient to be the same thing at all. If someone was really stressed out about their job and needed a doctor's note to excuse them from a day of work, I don't think it's unethical to write them a note to do it. Doctors write notes all the time to excuse people from work because they think it's best for the patient, not for a specific diagnosis. Your example is purposefully withholding medical care for a patient which isn't what was happening here at all.

You slept for 11 hours straight? That is not fair!

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"CalBearInBoston" wrote:

Are you calling these doctors idiots?

Yes. If someone wants to protest.. go ahead they can suffer the consequences what ever they may be... Maybe there should be no consequences. But that is no reason to lie and risk your position/livelihood as a dr. Instead take off work and protest with them, support them in other ways, voting, money etc... A lie is a lie, and it is idiocy YES.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Rivergallery" wrote:

Yes. If someone wants to protest.. go ahead they can suffer the consequences what ever they may be... Maybe there should be no consequences. But that is no reason to lie and risk your position/livelihood as a dr. Instead take off work and protest with them, support them in other ways, voting, money etc... A lie is a lie, and it is idiocy YES.

If they were experiencing stress and needed to take a day off of work as a result, it's not lying. And it's certainly not risking their livelihood, that's ridiculous. Fortunately, not everyone is just worried about keeping their jobs. Some people are really trying to help others and a good doctor considers a patient's entire well being, not just their bodies. The fact that you call someone an idiot for that is incredibly sad.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

I think you are giving the doctors too much credit.. they were handing out passes sight unseen to "patients" It wasn't for any other reason than their own political beliefs. It wasn't an issue of a person going to their normal doctor talking about stress, depression etc..

You do realise most dr's won't write a note for this to get off work usually right? Hell my sister is a Psychologist.. They have more than just a write a note say so. there is protocol and meds, and counseling all before recommending someone for temporary leave.. Unless it is a sudden extreme case, like abuse, death in a family etc. And even then the DR sits with the patient, they don't just show up with a stack of notes.

Yes writing notes for everyone and their co-worker for no substantial reason was a very idiotic thing to do.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

I'll stick with idiocy---

1. Showing foolishness or stupidity.
2. Exhibiting idiocy.

Other definitions - said Insanely irresponsbile.
Incongruous
inviting ridicule
devoid of good sense or judgment

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Oh and you are only reading or .. responding to portions of what I post.. I stated what one could do without lying! to help their cause.
Maybe they should be fighting for these teachers to be allowed days to protest, without the teachers risking losing their jobs.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Rivergallery" wrote:

I think you are giving the doctors too much credit.. they were handing out passes sight unseen to "patients" It wasn't for any other reason than their own political beliefs. It wasn't an issue of a person going to their normal doctor talking about stress, depression etc..

You do realise most dr's won't write a note for this to get off work usually right? Hell my sister is a Psychologist.. They have more than just a write a note say so. there is protocol and meds, and counseling all before recommending someone for temporary leave.. Unless it is a sudden extreme case, like abuse, death in a family etc. And even then the DR sits with the patient, they don't just show up with a stack of notes.

Yes writing notes for everyone and their co-worker for no substantial reason was a very idiotic thing to do.

I think you're unfamiliar with how professional jobs where you have professional judgment work. A doctor does not need therapy and meds to recommend someone takes a day off of work. That's silly.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Rivergallery" wrote:

I'll stick with idiocy---

1. Showing foolishness or stupidity.
2. Exhibiting idiocy.

Other definitions - said Insanely irresponsbile.
Incongruous
inviting ridicule
devoid of good sense or judgment

Do you think that I personally am an idiot? You know, someone that "exhibits idiocy," which is one of the most helpful definitions I've ever seen. Give me a break, I don't need simple words defined for me. It's not that I don't understand the words you're using, I just disagree with you.

Joined: 08/05/06
Posts: 441

"Rivergallery" wrote:

Oh and you are only reading or .. responding to portions of what I post.. I stated what one could do without lying! to help their cause.
Maybe they should be fighting for these teachers to be allowed days to protest, without the teachers risking losing their jobs.

I find your posts with random punctuation challenging to read. Perhaps if you wrote in a more standard style they would be easier to follow.

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