There are times in everyone’s daily lives when an awful, unexpected illness hits. Whether it’s a cold, flu, or other minor affliction, it still causes problems. A cold can negatively affect your work performance, reduce cognitive functions, and generally mess up your day.
Using telemedicine (a newer branch of medical care where doctors can diagnose and treat medical concerns remotely via phone or video chat) is a good way to treat minor illnesses like the common cold quickly. But sometimes you might need to also get a doctor’s note. In this article, we’ll help you navigate the waters of doctor’s notes and help you determine if you’ll need one or not.
An Explanation Of Doctor’s Notes
Let’s start at the beginning by defining what a doctor’s note is. It’s just a paper you get from a medical professional to serve as proof that you saw a doctor. Employers can require one as long as they apply the policy equally among all employees of the organization and
when employees are off for more than three consecutive days using illness as the reason.
It’s considered a legal document and comes directly from a board-certified doctor (or via their administration). They don’t cost anything, either. They’re a free service to the patient following their appointment.
Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals may try to forge a doctor’s note for whatever reason (usually to fool an employer into believing they saw a doctor when they, in fact, did not). Forging a doctor’s note isn’t merely unethical and wrong–it’s actually illegal. Since a doctor’s note is classified as a legal document, faking one is considered forgery. And forgery is a felony that can result in severe penalties.
Don’t fake a doctor’s note. Get it the legit way: by seeing a doctor and asking for one. Remember that a provider will never supply a doctor’s note or medical information pertaining to you to your employer, as it violates your HIPAA rights. The note will contain the time/date of the visit, a medical reason you saw the doctor, and a range of dates for when you shouldn’t work or can return to work.
Why You Might Need One
Sometimes employers require them to assist with paying out sick leave or workman’s compensation. They’re also useful for times when you may experience an extended absence from school or work due to an illness, injury, or other medical issues. If you’re contagious, staying away from work protects your colleagues and customers.
If you have a medical condition and require accommodations, the note can help your employer address those needs. Finally, you may want a doctor’s note in the event of a hospitalization or significant life event that might result in an extended absence.
What They Cover
So, what’s a doctor’s note used for anyway? Let’s say you had to miss school or work due to an illness or other significant medical event. These can include:
- Stomach flu/stomach bug
- Cold or flu
- Physical therapy
- Follow-up medical appointment
- Severe asthma attacks
- Allergic reactions
- Long-term illness
- Respiratory infections
- Broken bones
- And many more
Remember that your information and treatments are kept private by HIPAA, so the doctor won’t specifically mention your condition or treatment unless you provide express permission for them to do so. Your employer cannot demand specifics or details without violating your rights. Only the generalized version of a doctor’s note is required at most HR departments.
How To Get One Through Your Telemedicine Provider
Getting a doctor’s note is as easy as seeing a doctor for something and asking for one at the conclusion of the appointment. But if you consult a doctor via telemedicine, you may be at a loss for how to obtain one. Well, good news! A telemedicine provider can supply a doctor’s note as easily as the appointment itself.
Simply contact your telemedicine provider, set up a consultation/virtual appointment, and talk to the doctor. They can help you from there. The visit will usually be short, get straight to the point, and the doctor will diagnose/treat your medical issue promptly. The online doctor will use the note to address any special accommodations you’ll need to return to work (if needed).
Some employers may require a doctor’s note releasing you to return to work from a medical recovery or extended leave of absence. They’re also pragmatic and useful for excused absences at work or school. It may not always be necessary, but getting a note is a good practice and with the accessibility of telemedicine, it’s easier than ever to get a legitimate doctor’s note from an actual doctor with very little time or energy investment.