Forgo the sick notes, MDs urge employees

Ontario physicians are asking employers to reconsider asking employees for a doctor’s sick note if they are absent from work due to influenza.

TORONTO — Ontario physicians are asking employers to reconsider asking employees for a doctor’s sick note if they are absent from work due to influenza.

“In order to help reduce the transmission of H1N1 and other illnesses, Ontario’s doctors believe it is wise for patients to stay home when they have flu-like symptoms,” said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, president of the Ontario Medical Association.

“Employers need to recognize that by requiring a sick note, they are encouraging those who are experiencing their worst symptoms and are most infectious to go out, when they should just be home in bed,” she said Friday in a statement.

At the same time, the OMA stresses that employees should not take advantage of the pandemic flu as an excuse to simply take a day off from work.

Those who have mild flu-like symptoms and no pre-existing illnesses of concern should stay home to prevent others from getting infected with the flu — especially those who may be vulnerable to potentially severe complications due to underlying medical conditions.

Going to the doctor’s office just to get a note or going to work puts many others at risk, the OMA says.

While many patients with H1N1 or the seasonal flu will have a mild case and recover without medical treatment, those who have a chronic or pre-existing health condition, are in a high-risk population group, or whose symptoms worsen should seek care from a health professional, the doctors group says.

“Ontario’s doctors know that there will be added pressures and increased workload this flu season, but we are ready to care for and treat our patients,” Strasberg said.

“It’s important for everyone to do as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu and reduce the strain on the health-care system.”

“It’s equally important that we continue to focus on patients who need care, rather than those who just need a note.”