What You Need To Know About Doctor’s Notes

Dealing with an illness or injury isn’t at the top of anyone’s to-do list. But just like taxes and cold weather fronts, it happens at least once per year. Since getting a cold, flu, sinus infection, bronchitis—just a few of the most common respiratory illnesses that come around in the fall and winter—can’t always be avoided, you may find yourself needing to take some sick leave. At that point, you may need to furnish a doctor’s note to your employer in order to cover your time off. Here is a short guide to what you need to know about getting a doctor’s note next time you’re sick.

It Won’t Be Specific…

Something most folks probably don’t realize about doctor’s notes is that they aren’t really specific at all. HIPAA allows for a privacy rule that protects your personal medical information. Any detailed information can only legally come from you or your direct authorization. For instance, if you authorize your doctor to discuss the issue with your employer, then they can do so. If not, they are violating your privacy and rights. For this reason, a doctor’s note will never be specific to your medical history or diagnosis and only contain a note stating you are excused from work.

…But They Are Detailed

A doctor’s note is a detailed document that will contain quite a bit of non-specific information. This will include a confirmation that you were seen by the doctor (or had an online telemedicine consultation with one) and a note excusing you from work if necessary. The document should also have the date and preferably the time you were seen along with a start and ending date for when you aren’t supposed to be at work. If you had a telemedicine visit, often times the doctor can simply email the note to your employer instead of taking it in personally.

You Usually Need To Have An Appointment To Get One

Getting a doctor’s note/excuse is quite simple, really. It just comes with one condition: you often need to have an appointment or consultation with your doctor in order to get one. Since they’re included as a courtesy as part of the appointment, the cost is negligible. If you’re making an appointment to get a doctor’s note, the cost is only the co-pay for the appointment itself. When you visit a doctor in their office, you can ask for a note on your way out. If you need a doctor’s excuse for work, it might be easier to use telemedicine (when you speak with a doctor online or via the phone to receive the treatment). Most insurance plans offer some form of telemedicine that you can use if physically traveling to the physician’s office isn’t convenient or something you’re able to do. If you do, you’ll need to select a telemedicine provider, set up the appointment, pay the (typically very low) fee to use the service, and speak with the doctor about your symptoms. They’ll consult with you, give you advice on treatment, possibly prescribe medicine, and provide a summary of your appointment in digital form—along with an official doctor’s excuse or note at your request.

Your Employer Might Require It

In a scenario where you are diagnosed with a contagious illness or just generally believe you’re contagious, your employer will likely require a note to excuse you from your duties and a note allowing you to return to work. They’re allowed to do so if they need the information for sick leave purposes, workman’s compensation, or health/wellness programs. They also need to apply the policy for everyone. The note serves as a log for how much time off you’ll need and when you’ll return. It can also lay out any temporary restrictions or workplace accommodations you may require until you fully recover. Doctor’s notes are legal documents that will probably be stored with your employee documents after you supply one to your boss and/or HR department.

It’s Illegal To Use A Fake One

The internet is a wonderful place to learn, play, shop, and interact with others. But it does have a bit of a penchant for making some dishonest activities a reality. Doctor’s notes are one such area. There are several sites around the web that offer to either help users forge these notes or offer templates for forging doctor’s notes. When it comes down to it, however, forging a doctor’s note isn’t just dishonest; it’s illegal. In some situations, it can even lead to charges for the individual such as forgery (for faking a legal document), identity theft (for impersonating the doctor), and fraud (for trying to deceive others for their own benefit). Most of the time, however, it’ll probably just get you fired if the employer finds out, as many of them frown upon fraud and deception on the part of their employees.

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