Physicians disgrace the University of Wisconsin with fake doctor notes

One of the stories circulating regarding the demonstrations in Wisconsin is the authenticity of the doctor work notes.

Squarely in the cross-hairs are physicians from the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Family Medicine.

According to this excellent piece in The Atlantic by physician-writer Ford Vox,

In videos breathlessly presented throughout the conservative mediasphere this weekend, 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.

Some physicians from the University of Wisconsin were even giving work notes during the demonstrations.  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.”

That’s absurd.

I’ve written in the past that politics and medicine must have clear separation.  That clearly didn’t happen here.  As Dr. Vox observes, “these doctors sacrificed a slice of the medical profession’s credibility for a political cause.”

And from watching the videos, these physicians didn’t think much about the consequences of their actions — instead, letting the political momentum of the moment cloud their medical judgement:

One of the unidentified young physicians tells an inquisitive local libertarian organization called the MacIver Institute, “We are here writing doctor’s notes to support our public employees who have been mentally anguished and distressed this last week and needed to be out here for their mental health.” Medically speaking, that’s comedy.

The fallout is building, with the Wisconsin Medical Society looking into the matter.

No matter what happens, these doctors have disgraced the profession along with the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine, and deserve whatever punishment that the University and Medical Society sees fit.

Politics should never be allowed to dictate medical decision making, and these physicians should know better.  Hopefully after this embarrassment, they do now.

 is an internal medicine physician and on the Board of Contributors at USA Today.  He is founder and editor of KevinMD.com, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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  • inchoate but earnest

    too true.

    Better that the MDs should have gathered in the public square with a big script to display for Governor Walker; something to remedy his authoritarian “fever”

  • stitch

    Frankly, after the multiple issues of doctored inflammatory videos on many issues (Shirley Sherrod, anyone?) posted across the internets, I would like to see some independent confirmation of this before I pass judgment. If it’s true, it’s not defensible but I think there needs to be more light here.

  • http://emergency-room-nurse.blogspot.com girlvet

    Oh whatever, get a life. With our medical system collapsing around us, this is what you focus on? Get your priorities straight. WHo are you to say what other doctors should do? Who appointed you king of medicine?

    • http://www.PhysicalTherapyDiagnosis.com Tim Richardson

      Because physicians police themselves – that’s what professionals do. Physicians and every profession, be they architects, lawyers or physical therapists, are given a mandate from society to act in the public good.

      For this we are rewarded well, in both monetary returns and in social status.

      Doctors can pledge allegiance to a political party – either party – and act as individuals supporting that party but when physicians use the power of their office – their pen – to write sick notes they have abused the public trust that society gives them.

      Dr. Pho has a bully pulpit with KevinMD.com and I think he is using it appropriately to police the medical profession. Great job, Dr. Pho!

      Tim Richardson, PT
      http://www.PhysicalTherapyDiagnosis.com

    • Dave Miller

      Um, professional ethics say what ALL doctors should and should not do. This is a clear violation of professional ethics and should be pointed out and treated as such!

      You seem to suggest that there are bigger issues than professional ethics. I’d like to know what might possibly be more important than making sure the physicians we have are acting ethically towards their patients and towards their profession. Once we lose that, the health care system will collapse no matter what we do.

  • http://www.fammed.wisc.edu UW Dept of Family Medicine

    Regarding your article on University of Wisconsin Family Medicine physicians, please see UW Health’s statement:
    http://www.uwhealth.org/news/statement-regarding-uw-health-physicians/30653

    • ninguem

      Suddenly I’ve got a bunch of patients who want to be referred to the University of Wisconsin FP Department for disability exams.

      What’s the number of your appointments desk? The patients seem to have a list of specific doctors they want to see.

      • Amy Wencel

        These workers are not malingering. (In fact you could say they are working: teachers teaching by example.) For them the governor’s intractability is truly anxiety-producing, and take note it is not restricted to Wisconsin. The individual physician mentioned is well regarded by colleagues — I have been treated by him and can attest to his judgment. His name is mentioned, if you do want to refer to him for patients seeking quality care.

        • horseshrink

          I earnestly hope that those who have posted here in support of the fake-note writing docs, or in support of the teachers who accepted those notes, are not teachers representative of the ethical perspectives of Wisconsin teachers as a whole. I don’t want my faith in the teaching profession to be disappointed. The contorted exculpatory rationalizations evident in some of these posts are disheartening and worrisome.

          Similarly, I hope (believe) that the fake-note writing docs are not representative of my profession as a whole.

          But … docs do screw up.

          This is written and talked about … a lot. Medical Board actions (regardless of debate about sufficiency) are published. Lawsuits and disciplinary actions are distilled into a National Practitioner Databank. Bad research and corrupted researchers are targets of subsequent writers, and even retractions or censures. Not perfect … but it happens.

          I wonder if the teaching profession does the same?

          I wonder if the teachers who took the fake notes will be subject to the same level of scrutiny as the physicians who wrote them.

          • Dave Miller

            Well said!

        • ninguem

          I’m sure if doctors did something similar for equally passionate supporters of a right-wing cause you’d be equally supportive of the physicians.

          The grownups know that some things are just wrong, period.

  • http://doctoringtheevidence.blogspot.com/ Randall S. Bock, M. D.

    It shouldn’t be so terribly difficult to identify the doctors who had their faces squarely, and shamelessly, within the camera frame.

    Why these doctors just stopped with “sick notes” is beyond me. Why didn’t they have filled-in disability-forms at the ready? (I say this tongue-in-cheek obviously, but nothing would shock me here)

  • stitch

    According to the article at the top of the medical news on this page:

    “According to Donna Katen-Bahensky, president and CEO of the hospital, the Wisconsin legislature restructured the hospital 17 years ago, creating two entities, “the UW Hospital and Clinical Authority and the UW Hospital and Clinics Board.”

    The bill supported by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in the state senate would eliminate the UWHC Board and make all hospital and clinic workers employees of the UW Hospital and Clinic Authority, Katen-Bahensky explained in an e-mail sent last Friday to all UW Hospital and Clinics employees.

    She said the governor’s bill would also eliminate collective bargaining for those employees.”

    Maybe it’s worth looking into this, too, and possibly examining whether there should be such a separation between medicine and politics. It’s not like we docs are immune to political maneuverings ourselves.

  • Jeff Taylor

    If this is your definition of ‘disgracing the profession’ then goodness knows what you think of such things as the systematic abuse of clinical research integrity. One symbolic gesture in support of other workers and out come the po-faced hatchets.

    • Dave Miller

      Actually, this was not just a “symbolic gesture.” The physician’s sick note is a legal, binding document, admissible in a court-of-law, just like a prescription for a medication. Indeed, it is a prescription in that the physician is stating that there is, in their professional opinion, an important medical reason why their patient should be allowed to miss work without reproach or punishment. Abuse of this is no different than if they were freely handing out prescriptions for Oxycontin.

  • http://fertilityfile.com IVF-MD

    It’s my understanding that medical boards have punished doctors for much less (writing an excuse note for one’s own family member that family member truly was sick). Where is the consistency? I can see the rationale in punishing both the family member thing and punishing this Wisconsin thing. I can also see the rationale in not punishing either. But to punish one and not the other arbitrarily smacks of hypocrisy.

    • http://thoughtbroadcast.com SteveBMD

      Agree that this is a double standard.

      To any doctor who has been disciplined for lesser violations (and there are many of them out there), anything short of a public reprimand or formal probation for the guilty UW doctors would be a travesty.

  • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

    What these doctors did was show solidarity with the people against an authoritarian governor. There is a time when violating the rules is justified, particularly as I can’t see where they harmed anyone in doing so. There is no disgrace in this.

    Let’s dispense once and for all with the idea that doctors can determine accurately whether a person is sick or disabled. They cannot. If there isn’t something obvious or objectively wrong, then most such determinations come down to guess work and taking the patient’s word for it. Doctors cannot, and should not, be realistically expected to separate the fakers from the real patients with any degree of accuracy.

    It would be a welcome change to see such strong language applied to those doctors who make a living fraudulently pretending they can accurately determine whether a patient is disabled or not, but in fact just produce bogus medical reports to insurance company specifications.

    • horseshrink

      The writing of fake doctor’s notes here not only disgraces the medical profession, it disgraces the union. In accepting these notes, union members demonstrate a quick willingness to use dishonesty for political gain, which brings the nature of all their motives into question.

      I then ask myself, why should another dishonest political group have forceable access to my wallet? I only see entitled avarice, then, and my sympathy disappears – especially with a real world budget to balance.

  • imdoc

    “Let’s dispense once and for all with the idea that doctors can determine accurately whether a person is sick or disabled”

    Who then should determine these things? Disability insurance would be worthless.

    • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

      Disability insurance isn’t worthless. Disability evaluations are.

  • Steven Wynn

    Whats the big deal? some posters say. The big deal is that these doctors are lying on paper. Ethically, it’s wrong for a physician to lie to any person or authority regarding another person’s health status. Morally, it’s up to you.

    “There is a time when violating the rules is justified…..There is no disgrace in this ” That’s a fine opinion, but if you do the crime, you do the time. Right or wrong, these physicians broke the law by lying on behalf of these people. We don’t just suspend our laws for a “good cause”

  • Anna

    Disgrace? It’s fraud, both on the part of the physicians and teachers. The teachers wanted the notes to feign illness so they will be paid and not lose money while they were out demonstrating.

  • http://www.bettmartinez.com;www.possiblesociety.org bett martinez

    Governor threatens to call out National Guard. Will it be OK for docs to treat people when that happens? Can medical students demonstrate as they did in Egypt?

    Perhaps whats happening is a waking up of all workers, including as some comments mentioned, doctors, to a certain lack of fairness in that many work hard, and some few don’t see any limits to their “need” to achieve and acquire. Perhaps the fracas in some Midwestern states will ultimately unite all who “labor”, not just “unions”…

  • tpetrusick

    With the amount of government involvement in medicine, pysicians have to be politically involved. You can have greater impact on the3 well being of a far greater number with plitical involvement than you can in your office. I am disappointed in KevinMD he shoul recommend appropriate political involvement.

    • horseshrink

      Our primary professional purpose is grounded in the physician/patient relationship. The further we travel from this (e.g., into politics), the more divided we become as a profession.

      Such purity of purpose has been seriously complicated by the fact that we’ve allowed ourselves to have financial relationships with state and federal governments. With their reimbursement, in one hand, come regulations/laws/control in the other.

      We probably have no choice but to be politically active so long as we choose to remain wed to government monies. However, that gives us no excuse for dishonesty, even on such an inherently dishonest playing field.

  • http://fertilityfile.com IVF-MD

    This started as a discussion on medical ethics and doctors knowingly writing notes attesting to illness when they realize that most of patients are not truly sick.

    However, from the comments above, this has naturally transitioned into a discussion of the very issue that triggered these actions, namely the unions’ wish to be able to collectively bargain as before.

    Human beings have a right to negotiate voluntarily, whether it be individually or collectively (well, apparently all humans except doctors, but that’s a whole other issue). Even as a child, I could have said to my neighbor, I’ll mow your lawn for $15 and either of us could have chosen to agree on those terms or to counteroffer. If we can’t agree on something mutually acceptable, then it’s no deal and we go our separate ways. I am not forced to work and he is not forced to give me money.

    This situation is different. The people who must pay the money are the working taxpayers, many of whom earn their money by voluntary payment from their customers. The employees get their money involuntary through the forced collection of taxes and they even get to keep collecting that money as a protected monopoly, so that their payor can’t choose not to pay and go elsewhere instead. There is no way for the payors to fairly negotiate because their involvement is compulsory. What’s the moral solution? Allow the unions to negotiate all they want in any peaceful way they want to demand whatever demands they want. In return, the taxpayers have the right to demand whatever level of service they want at whatever price they want. If both sides can’t come to an agreement, then each individual taxpayer has the option to say “No thanks. The price is too high and the quality of the product is too low. I’m not interested. Either drop the price or raise the quality of the product or else please just let me keep my money and I’ll shop elsewhere or not at all.”

    Besides the above moral argument, there is the practical argument that there is no longer enough money in the actual piggy bank to keep paying out at these rates. Private sector businesses (at least not the small mom-and-pop businesses) have no ability to increase their money through political means. They must achieve it through working harder to earn the customers’ business or risk losing them to the competition. Public sector unions don’t have this problem because the laws disallow any fair competition. If the paying customer does not like the teaching and choose to opt out or seek a private school instead, the union members still get the customers’ money!

    If any of these points are not the truth, I’d be interested in hearing any insight that others may have. If anybody wishes to enlighten me further on this nonmedical topic without cluttering up Kevin’s site, please direct me to a more appropriate forum in which to discuss this very important matter.

    • horseshrink

      yup

    • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

      You are presuming the governor here is bargaining in good faith on behalf of the people, when it has already been proven he is not:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/23/scott-walker-buffalo-beast-phone-prank_n_827058.html

      Given that the costs and profitability of medical care is inflated by government-protected monopolies, I wonder how enthusiastic you would be about applying your logic to your own profession. How about a system where patients no longer have to deal with doctors to get the treatment they need, and if they do go to doctors, it will only be after negotiating prices based on the quality of care they receive. If patients don’t like the care, then they can vote to reduce payments to doctors. If they don’t like drug company prices, they can buy drugs cheaper overseas with no restrictions, and they can even consult with doctors overseas.

      You might note there isn’t enough money in the piggy bank to go on paying monopoly rents to the medical industrial complex, either.

      • http://fertilityfile.com IVF-MD

        PH, my documented comments on this site in previous posts support and agree with you 100% on that issue. I’ve said words to the effect that “I want that patients come to see me because they choose to. Because my diligent service EARNS their choice as the most effective cost-efficient option that they have, not because the competition (foreign doctors, alternative health providers, etc) have been coercively eliminated or restricted from competing. Don’t have patients come to me just because I have the monopoly afforded by some piece of board-certification parchment.”

        We are in agreement because the fundamental truth exists that people should be free to choose. Forced monopolies whether teacher, doctor or widget manufacturer lead to worse outcomes than the allowing of people to voluntarily negotiate. Thanks.

        • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

          Thanks for setting me straight and i respect that your stance is consistent on this point. However, I believe you are mistaken in defining this issue as being a struggle over how public education is financed. Regardless of whether taxpayers are being “coerced” to pay for something they don’t want or the system is funded 100 percent voluntarily, the teachers are fighting for their right to organize and negotiate against the power of bosses. That right exists regardless, and the governor has no moral authority to legislate it away. We are not living in a dictatorship.

          The unions are not in direct negotiation with the public, but with a governor who largely represents the interests of employers, and not taxpayers. If the taxpayers don’t like the way public education is financed, they have every right to adapt a different system of financing public education or none at all. They do not get to dictate to anyone how they should work, for how much or under what conditions. That must be determined by negotiations. Once the terms have been agreed upon, teachers should meet those terms, and so should their employers. Giving employers the power to fire and replace employees whenever they feel like breaking their contract is neither just or desirable.

          • http://fertilityfile.com IVF-MD

            You wrote, ” If the taxpayers don’t like the way public education is financed, they have every right to adapt a different system of financing public education or none at all. ”
            How? So if I and 49% of the people who vote don’t like the way public education is financed, how do we go about adapting a different system or none at all. Is it true that we can, as you say, or is this a lying false promise that politicians say? If it’s true, please tell me how.

          • horseshrink

            PH wrote: “They ['the taxpayers'] do not get to dictate to anyone how they should work, for how much or under what conditions.”

            It saddens me to read a fellow citizen/taxpayer’s writing of this. I hear Us vs. Them. The “taxpayer” is defiantly set apart as a potential encroachment upon government that might have the audacity to “dictate” “how much” government employees are paid.

            Well, those who fund the payroll determine “how much” employees are paid. Employees don’t decide. If they want that responsibility, they need to run their own businesses, instead.

            Taxpaying citizens are the owners and funders of their democratic governments. Though limited by scale to large, blunt decisions in the voting booth or through legislation, they do have the final say-so over how much money is spent by government and how it’s spent. (Those who disagree may be more content to live in a dictatorship.)

            When governments and their employees forget to be proper stewards of tax monies, taxpayers get pretty upset. When governments go farther and also demonstrate a sense of entitlement to taxpayer monies, outright anger is expectable.

  • Brenda

    We hear doctors say how much stress effects your health all the time. Now if you think that being in a fight to save your economic life doesn’t cause super stress, you are not a very good doctor. If you think having your life turned upside down isn’t stress, then you should not be in medicine. These doctors spoke the truth. Anyone could recognize worker stress (anxiety), these doctors just have the power to make it official. It’s no different than going to an urgent care center, to someone who has never met you and will probably never see you again. You all created assembly line medicine and now you are complaining when an instant clinic is set up. Is the compaint a lack of ICD9 codes and no one got paid for the protester clinic? How could the protesters work when they knew they were being used in a plot to make the Koch brothers richer and they would lose all they ever worked to gain. That is enough to send your BP straight up. Anyone who knows anything knew what the real story was. And dont pretend there is some kind of special bond between doctors and patients when they rush you in and out, and all you are is a chart, billing code, and maybe even a topic of ridicule after you leave. Personally I like a doctor who will take a stand, be involved. That tells me they are the ones who really care for the people, the others give lip service. Maybe if doctors had been politically involved long ago the health care system would not be the disaster it became. These doctors took a stand to right a wrong. The ultimate in ethical behavior.

  • gzuckier

    Let me get this straight; these folks have a job which requires that they provide a note from their doctor if they take a sick day; rather than just some predefined number of sick days which then overflow into short or long term disability with all the documentation requirements (isn’t that the norm, or have i just been really lucky in my jobs thus far)?
    1) gee, i have a great idea as to how to reduce medical costs for state of wisconsin employee group
    2)people are jealous of this benefit package, and need to make it less cushy?

    Me, I’m more worried about the doctors who hand out scripts for antibiotics just to pacify the patients with URIs who demand them.

  • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

    It is true that faking sick notes is technically “fraud” and this is, technically, a violation of “medical ethics” But it is interesting to note the outrage this has generated compared to the more mundane and severe frauds that occur every day in the system:

    1. Where is the outrage over doctors writing unnecessary scripts to please patients on the false belief that patients won’t be happy unless they get a script? This is a fraud that costs billions of dollars yearly, and exposes patients to injury and death for no good purpose. I have seen this practice defended right here in the comments section.

    2. Related to number 1, where is the outrage over the millions of unnecessary scripts for antibiotics written every year, which exposes the entire human race to injury and death from antibiotic resistant pathogens?

    3. Where is the outrage over doctors who manipulate patients into having surgeries and other procedures they don’t need, or who eschew safer therapies in favor of more renumerative but dangerous ones?

    4. Where is the outrage over doctors who take kickbacks from drug companies to prescribe drugs which are usually more expensive and often more dangerous than the alternatives?

    5. Where is the outrage over Workers Comp “Independent Medical Examiners” who are paid to lie about injured workers’ degree of injury and disability by insurance companies. These are doctors who routinely destroy the lives of thousands of injured workers daily by denying them the medical benefits and compensation they need to survive, yet not a thing is said by anyone outside a token anti-fraud law here and there.

    I really have to marvel at that which generates moral outrage from the medical profession over that which largely generates silence. Here we have a group of doctors risking their careers to do the right thing, and they are attacked by their colleagues. Yet when doctors do the wrong thing, they are usually ignored or even protected by their colleagues.

    We do not live in a black and white world where everything falls neatly into categories of “right” and “wrong.” These doctors violated the letter of medical ethics in favor of the spirit of medical ethics, which is to help their patients, and work for something greater than their own self-interest. I wish there were more doctors out there who could find the will to stand up for what is right, rather than remain silent about ethical violations that are downright evil.

    • horseshrink

      Scope of Kevin’s post not meant to address all the faults within the field of medicine. Just this one.

      Using distraction to point out our other flaws does not make the “technically” fraudulent activity Kevin decries any more acceptable.

      Interesting, though, how the monies and control at stake here has changed the threshold for determining unacceptable behavior. Not a good sign.

      • Jeff Taylor

        ‘Using distraction to point out our other flaws does not make the “technically” fraudulent activity Kevin decries any more acceptable.’

        But as you obviously noted with ‘technically’ this is not on the same level as much other wrongdoing and to make out it is just plays into the tea party style witchhunt. We do not live in a world of absolutes.

      • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

        There is no “distraction” here. Events do not occur in a vacuum and there is nothing wrong or misleading about comparing the reaction of the medical profession to this relatively mild infraction to the silence that often greets more egregious violations by doctors. If the medical profession were pure as the driven snow it might be apropos to react so strongly to the one time it failed to be so. But it isn’t, and thus the reaction to this one case seems to be far out of proportion to the actual “offense” and it is interesting to question why.

        • ninguem

          Don’t forget Koch Industries, they’re the bogeyman du jour.

          Seems like just yesterday it was Halliburton.

          • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

            Does anyone need an education on just how sleazy Haliburton was?

    • JustADoc

      #1, #2, and #3 I know have been written about on KevinMD and multiple other blogs on a fairly regular basis. #4 is just a flat out myth. #5 I have minimal knowledge of though the very few disability exam reports I have seen were extremely through and detailed and exceptionally objective.

    • http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat WhiteCoat

      Let me rephrase at least one aspect of PH’s argument:

      How is standing on a street corner handing out work notes any different than standing in an office and doing so when a patient took several days off for an “illness” and needs a doctor’s excuse to go back to work. The doctor never saw the patient when he or she was allegedly “ill” yet writes the note anyway.

      One kind of fraud is blasphemous, the other kind of fraud is accepted medical practice? How are we going to reconcile the two? The only reason these doctors are going through a gauntlet now is because they flaunted in front of the news cameras what is a fairly ubiquitous practice in medicine.

      Not to muck up Kevin’s comment section, but a majority of “doctor’s notes” these days are unnecessary. I wrote a post about the topic and gave several examples on my blog today.

    • ninguem

      You forgot Halliburton and George Bush.

      And I heard George Washington owned slaves.

    • AA

      The only thing I would add to your excellent post is that I hope these doctors who are complaining about sick notes are also filing complaints with state medical boards when they personally witness malpractice by a colleague. This rarely happens because of the unwritten rule that you don’t rat on another professional.

      How many times do we hear stories where a patient dies because of a doctor’s action only to find out his/her colleagues were aware of what was going on but never reported the person?

      Anyway, in my opinion, if you all had the same outrage at the abuses listed above as you do about sick notes, maybe the malpractice cases would decrease.

  • Dave Miller

    It’s interesting to see how quickly the discussion has devolved from commentary on the ethics of the docs (and residents) in question handing out fake sick notes to justifying their actions based on the “nobleness” of their intent. Here’s a thought to consider. Dr. Martin Luther King was an advocate of non-violent protest and appropriate civil disobedience. However, he also believed that you should submit to whatever punishment was handed you for your actions (ever read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail?”). In other words, if these docs and residents are indeed acting with noble intent, then they should (according to Dr. King) be willing to suffer the consequences. Hmmm…

  • Amy Wencel

    This just in, from a teacher/protester here in Madison:

    There is nothing FAKE at all about these notes from the doctors.
    I have one. I have seen it with my own eyes.
    If you actually SEE one, you must agree that “this is a note from a doctor that makes no medical claims whatsoever.

    It’s simply a note from a doctor saying that the doctor has seen you, and if you have any questions, call this phone number.

    Shocking, huh?

  • Jenga

    The defense of these physicians on the comments section would make Jackie Chiles proud.

  • http://positively-healthy.com Rob

    What about the privacy issues? Were there any hipaa issues violated by seeing/diagnosing a patient on a public street corner?

    • ninguem

      Hardly an expert on this, but I suspect HIPAA privacy rules anticipate that the patient WANTS privacy.

      Kate Couric put her colonoscopy on national television. Though that was done a couple years before the HIPAA privacy rules. Or any of a number of medical documentaries you see on TV, where a patient with some unusual disease or other condition to make a TV documentary interesting, agrees to have medical exams, surgical procedures, all sorts of things televised.

      So I suspect that the patient interview in public, at the patient’s request, would not be a HIPAA problem. There could be trouble with what the docs do with any information generated.

      Though when you get down to it, lawyers can always find a reason to sue.

  • VC

    Go figure, we cant organize under any organization, we can strike, we plenty of taxes. But we support the writes of other to be protesting. Those doc writing notes, make the rest of us look bad. The union workers who do have some of the nicest benefits and sick day allowances get 2x’s as many sick days as the rest of my population. They all miss an entire day of work for my 30 minute appt.

    If 100k of us would show up on Obama’s Doorstep, and partially shut down health care. I bet we would make some headway. But, I doubt we would get much support from outsiders. We have grown apathetic as a group just look at the AMA.

  • sundoc

    I wonder how many notes outside of Wisconsin are fake? When you said disgrace, I was thinking of something more like this:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/23/2082013/pill-mill-arrests-hit-right-target.html

    http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21003619975075/

    http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21003617921148/

    Florida is Ground Zero for Pill Mills and Medicare fraud, and the governor has opted to look this other way on the Pill Mills, despite pleas from governors in other states. Also, he can’t say much to condemn Medicare fraud because he was CEO of Columbia/HCA when the company was facing charges of $2 billion in Medicare fraud.

    • Dave Miller

      So is a single murder any less egregious than multiple murders? The fact that this situation might not “measure up” to other bad situations makes it no less disgraceful. One doesn’t dismiss bad acts simply on account of worse acts.

  • jsmith

    Sad, really. My wife trained at UW Madison in family med. Lou Sanner was at our wedding. He’s a good doc and a nice guy. I think these family docs got carried away in the moment.
    Medical license loss is too stiff a punishment. Some sort of reprimand from the medical board is in order, however. Society rightly expects us to separate our medical selves from our political selves, and these docs failed in that.

  • http://minochahealth.typepad.com doc

    Politics aside, such blatant actions display a state of physician arrogance.

  • http://www.painprime.wordpress.com DavePrime

    I have always been under the impression that “standing up for what one believes in”,required one to be willing to face the consequences that such a stand would bring. In this case, that would mean missing pay for missing work. By forging doctor’s notes for these teachers, the teachers basically STOLE a day’s wages. Each. And the doctors made it possible! (After all, the general public did NOT agree to pay them to lobby the gov’t.)

    Doctors are held to a high standard. Their word in regards to illness is like the word of an officer of the court. Because of this, a ‘doctor’s note’ is considered the ultimate in reasons to miss any and all requirements up to and including court. (jury duty, work, school, etc.) It is given great weight in helping to determine the ‘truth’ of a person’s disability or infirmity. These doctors have opened the door to employers/teachers/judges refusing to pardon a person due to the tarnishing of the ethics and esteem the medical field is held in. If they will lie for this, why should their word be given any weight at all?

    What these doctors have done is no different than that of a juror taking a bribe, or a cop taking “hush” money to look the other way. Regardless of the reasons or whatever other evils/wrongs there are in the world, this act is WRONG. It is perjury and petty theft on a grand scale and should be punished accordingly.