A Doctor’s Note
Doctors are extremely busy professionals and will provide a ‘note’ regarding an employee’s ability to return to work or to stay off of work when requested. ‘Does it suffice for your work environment’ is the question?
The answer is, ‘it depends’. If you provided the doctor with clear expectations as to what needs to be on the note to assist you in the return to work process, or the stay at home process due to your sickness policy, then that’s great. However, most times employers don’t provide the doctor with clarity in regards to what is needed and helpful. Without this you will find the typical prescription pad note insufficient to ensure a safe and early return to work, and it also, more than likely, it won’t provide enough clarity for absenteeism either.
We can all say that these notes are a great burden on the healthcare system, and you are probably right if you want to take that stance. However if we lived in a world where there was 100% integrity on all the stakeholders’ part – that includes everyone in the process – we wouldn’t necessarily need doctors’ notes. At the end of the day, absenteeism & disability is rooted, and has been for a very long time, in the health care practitioners hand. To simplify, it requires usually a MD to sign disability papers, make referrals to other practitioners and determine when an employee is well enough to return to work and/or stay off work if they are ill. It would be nice to see this change, but I highly doubt this will happen in the near future. The monopoly on disability lies in the hands of medical doctors, for the most part.
If your employee is being treated by another healthcare practitioner, there is nothing wrong with getting a return to work or absenteeism prognosis from them. It would definitely ease up on the workload medical doctors have so they can see more clients that are also ill.
This process would also require the insurance companies and employers to take a broader view as to which profession could in fact provide valid information. To say a chiropractor or naturopath are not doctors and therefore their medical opinion is insufficient for validating absenteeism and disability is old! We need to get over this outdated stance.
The healthcare system is overburdened because medical doctors are presently one of the only ones allowed to give an acceptable opinion.
The Ministry of Health and the Government of Ontario have passed many healthcare practitioners through a Health Regulated process that allows them the right to make an opinion on a variety of different manners based on regulations set forth by each specialized college. Maybe we should consider using ALL of those designated health professionals for opinions as it relates to being off work and/or returning to work. It would definitely help reduce the workload of medical doctors. Just a thought….
Lucie M.H. Fournier RN, COHN(C), BA (Psych)
Founder/Workplace Health Strategist
Expertise in 6 distinct niches including:
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