Monday, February 21, 2011

Doctor's Notes



Know where my devious mind went when I heard about the doctor's-note-factories at the Wisconsin protests? I immediately thought of the people who have noticed a medical problem but haven't yet been to the doctor to have it checked out. Why not show up for a free screening on the street corner? If the problem turns out to be serious down the road, and the street doctor didn't follow through on your care, you've got a dandy lawsuit against a doctor who has no records of what care was given, what was said, or even who was treated.

No, I never would do such a thing. Not even condone it. But that's where my mind went when I heard about the note givers.

And here's the thing about doctor's notes. In my days in the IAM union I was required to do the doctor's note kabuki every time I missed work. And it was a total sham; you showed up at the union favored doctor, waited an hour to see the doctor or nurse for five minutes, and picked up your note. No great deception was required to abuse this system. In fact, I would spend my hour's waiting period to imagine conversations with the doctor that could possibly end with me not getting a note.

Really, the process was a gigantic waste of time and resources. And I feel for anyone who has to get a doctor's note in order to take a sick day. But doing pretend consults on the street corner and lying about your symptoms (wink wink nudge nudge) just shines a spotlight on a broken system that does nothing to stop people from going fishing when they should be doing their job.

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