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Madison Doctor Should Not Have Been Writing “Sick Notes” At Union Rally

February 20, 2011

It is important that union members fight Governor Walker over his anti-union bill.  In that fight we should not do things that are clearly inappropriate, or things that when brought to light will distract from our goals.  But that is, unfortunately, what one Wisconsin doctor did to us on Saturday.

Last evening on a local Madison television newscast ( WMSN-TV 47) it was reported that Doctor K. Oriel, a UW health family physician was writing ‘sick notes’ for teachers.  At the time I had no idea if the person was indeed a doctor, or a political plant designed to make trouble.  Now I know this morning that in fact she is a real Madison doctor. 

While I have no problem with teachers closing down the schools to protest, and in fact have supported them and will continue to do so, I have many concerns about Dr K. Oriel, or any other physician that would write notes of this type on the street for anyone.

I think it appropriate to ask, what diagnosis she used, will she electronically chart this information, and was she using authorized release forms.  In this day and age of malpractice, electronic charting, and HIPAA,  I think this borders on a huge problem.  I also think there are ethical lapses to this as well.

Look…many if not most of the citizens in Madison are with the state and public employees in this fight against Walker’s assault on unions.  We have every right, and I think a duty, to stand up for the labor laws and proud history of this state.  But I think we need to be mindful of not doing stupid stunts in the name of solidarity.

What Doctor Oriel did was stupid.

And it is hurtful to the union cause.

For those who might suggest that bringing this story to light on a liberal blog makes me the bad guy…..well….you must be a first time reader….as I call them as I see them on CP.

  1. March 11, 2011 8:02 PM


    The ethics of this matter is still not clear to me. That is what I am concerned about.

    The collective barg. issue is seperate from this matter that took place on the Square.

    I am clearly opposed to what Walker and Company have done, but I also want our side to play fair and ethically.

  2. lilyjoblue permalink
    March 11, 2011 7:53 PM

    Purplepenquin is right. These doctors (and there were several) were writing notes for work excuses, because they believed that the teachers at the protests should be excused from work. The only legal issues would be if the doctors were writing prescriptions that were not based on medical necessity (i.e. for profit, etc). They weren’t prescribing medicines or treatment, simply writing notes to excuse teachers from work.

    Many doctors will write you a work excuse any time if you call them and tell them you need one, and will send it to your work for you without ever needing to have seen you. This is not regulated, it poses no jeopardy to public or individual health, and is solely up to the individual physician’s discretion.

    The school administrators had said teachers needed a doctor’s note in order to be paid for the day they missed. The doctors were providing that note. It checks-off a box on a bureaucratic process, and that is all the schools care about doing. Administrators can show they followed due-process even though they don’t really want the budget repair bill any more than the teachers do. It’s a win-win. Get over it, CP.

  3. February 20, 2011 2:10 PM

    Doctors who use the position of their office falsely to further their political cause are committing immoral acts and should be denounced. Kudos to CP for doing so.

  4. Purplepenquin permalink
    February 20, 2011 12:44 PM

    It is not only inappropriate to ask what diagnosis she used, etc, etc, etc it is also illegal to ask. (Well, not illegal to just ask…but it would be illegal for her to tell you.) Keep in mind that a “note-from-the-doctor” for work does NOT explain the condition, but rather it just shows that the employee consulted a medical professional. True, the Limbaughs and Hannitys will make a lotta hay out of this one, but there is nothing illegal nor unethical about her actions.

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