Nova Scotia physician Ethel Cooper-Rosen understands that the Canadian health care system was put in place for people in need. Many companies across Canada have policies which require employees with two or more consecutive sick days to provide a doctor’s note.
As Dr. Cooper-Rosen explains in her letter, it would expose patients to viruses. This, in turn, could complicate health problems for other patients in her office. She recommends that the best medicine for most people with common illnesses (common cold, gastrointestinal virus) is to stay home, rest, and drink fluids.
It also prevents people who need to be diagnosed for more serious medical conditions from getting a timely appointment. Waiting times for a doctor’s appointment in Canada can sometimes be as much as a week or even longer. If fewer appointments were made to get a doctor’s note, it would be better for patients and the health system.
Here is a transcript of the letter:
Date: Oct 16/14
An employee of your company visited my office/emergency room for the purpose of obtaining a medical note to satisfy your company’s absenteeism policy. This request is a non-insured service, not funded by Medical Services Insurance.
As a business operator in Nova Scotia, I am asking for your support in helping to alleviate an unnecessary pressure on the health care system. I am hoping you will consider revisting your current absenteeism policy and remove the requirement for your employees to obtain a medical note for missed time from work.
This policy creates an unnecessary burden on the health-care system and also exposes seriously ill patients in my office to viruses that could cause detrimental consequences to their health. In most cases, the best remedy for a patient with an isolated illness (i.e., gastrointestinal virus or common cold) is to stay home, rest and drink fluids. Coming to a doctor’s office or an emergency room for a medical note does not complement their recovery.
If, for whatever reason, your business decides to continue to require a physician to authorize their employees’ absenteeism, I will require your employee to bring with them a written request from the organization for the medical note. Upon providing the service I will invoice your company $30.00 per medical note. This is a standard practice when providing non-medical necessary services for third-party organizations.
As Canadians, we are lucky to have our health-care system, but the ability to access its services in a timely fashion is a growing problem. Health-care providers, business operators, governments and individuals all have a role to play to ensure its sustainability. I hope your business will consider changing your current absenteeism policy and therefore contribute to reduce the unnecessary burden on our health-care system and improve access for other Nova Scotians.
If all doctors began charging companies for requiring medical notes, it would definitely send out a message. It prevents patients that truly need health care to get a timely doctor’s appointment.
Also, It’s a sad fact that some patients abuse a medical system that is paid for by the Canadian government. Because it’s perceived as free (it’s funded by income taxes), some people book a doctor’s appointment everytime they sneeze. This prevents patients that desperately need to see a doctor needing a long wait time. For that reason, it’s beneficial for Canadians to visit a doctor if they really need to.
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