Newfoundland doctors join sick note debate

Demanding medical notes for short illnesses ‘inappropriate use of resources’: NLMA

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) weighed in on the sick note debate in a letter to members released this week.

Employers should not require medical notes for short absences due to illness, said the NLMA, as this is an inappropriate use of health-care resources.

Employers who do require sick notes for brief, self-limiting illnesses are putting undue stress on the medical system, said the letter.

“Members are, with increasing frequency, being asked by patients for ‘sick notes’ or medical certificates to provide to their employers or schools for short absences due to self-limiting illness,” wrote Yordan Karaivanov, president of the NLMA.

“In many cases, patients are presenting in physicians’ offices after they have returned to work fully recovered, and the medical certificate is completed based on information provided by the patient and not an assessment by the physician.”

NLMA is advising its member physicians to not provide medical notes for short-term illnesses when they did not assess the patient during the course of the illness. These short-term illnesses should be an issue between the employer and the employee, the NLMA said.

“It is the NLMA’s position that employers should encourage their employees to stay at home when they are sick to prevent the spread of infections to their co-workers and vulnerable populations who present at medical clinics and hospital emergency departments,” wrote Karaivanov.

“Demanding that employees complete sick notes for short absences due to self-limiting illness is an inappropriate use of health care resources and contributes to increased wait times for patients requiring medically necessary services.”

The NLMA created a new Third-Party Requested Medical Certificate form, to be used only after five days of illness or absence. Employers that wish to use an employer form will need to have it endorsed by the NLMA.

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