Doctors Should Not Commit Fraud to Aid Unions

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Some Wisconsin doctors have offered, at a public event, to write sickness excuses on request for protesting teachers, according to ABC News. A spokeswoman said that they knew they could “get in trouble,” but would take the risk because “teachers have no choice.”

The teachers’ choice is to go to work, or go without pay and risk being fired. “It’s the same choice faced by everyone in the world who can’t use someone else’s earnings to pay the bills,” said Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

“Writing a phony sickness excuse is fraud,” she said. Doctors are frequently under intense pressure to do this, or to misstate diagnoses, to “help” patients who want to collect sick pay, insurance payments, disability, or other benefits to which they are not lawfully entitled. For doctors to advertise their willingness to do so is, however, distinctly unusual.

“Physicians who sign their name to a false statement are compromising their professional integrity,” said Orient, although the Wisconsin union supporters seem to believe that the end justifies the means. The penalties can be very severe; for Medicare or Medicaid fraud, they include delicensure, draconian fines, and lengthy prison terms.

Public employees are forbidden to strike. A sick-out is the functional equivalent of a strike. Teachers who ask for a false excuse, and physicians who knowingly provide one, are both subverting the law intended to protect the public against suspension of essential services.

Physicians, like other citizens, have the right to take a political stand. They may lawfully go to the protest, or contact their elected officials. Apparently, they are not contributing voluntarily to a fund to pay teachers who stay home, but want the taxpayers to do that.

Patients who respect their physician should not ask him to lie. And everyone should be questioning the wisdom of caving in to a pressure group that is willing to use professional lies as a tool to overturn the voice of the electorate, states Orient.

AAPS, which represents physicians in all specialties nationwide, believes in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship and in the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution.

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  • Mark Popp

    I am embarrassed by my fellow doctors, who took an oath to be honest and truthful. I find it hard to believe that a practicing physician would have the time to do this. I had to be in my office when I was in practice. Are these interns and/or residents?

  • Fraud indeed. See my take on this issue at “The face of postmodern medicine: lying”, at http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2011/02/face-of-postmodern-medicine-lying.html

  • Also see additional information and links here:
    “Notes from Dr. RW: Fake notes by fake docs or fake notes by real docs?”
    http://doctorrw.blogspot.com/2011/02/fake-notes-by-fake-docs-or-fake-notes.html

  • Paul Adler, MD

    If doctors abuse their privilege to determine whether someone is too sick to work, employers and society will take away this power from us and we will no longer be respected when an employee cannot work because of real illness.

  • thomas j laplaca

    words cannot describe the painful lament i feel for our once noble profession the principles, attitude and consistent philosophy of the aaps gives me solace that i am not alone in my sadness but moreover the aaps gives me some basic hope that we may regain the respect and dignity that comes with the privilege to care for the sick

  • AuntieDebbie

    How can anyone be on the side of the unionized teachers? They have been receiving unbelievable benefits, but the taxpayer and the States can no longer afford it. If a teacher isn’t there for the benefit of the students, then they need to find a new trade. Look at all the parochial and private schools that produce productive people with great grades and they do it at a fraction of the cost of the public school student. So any doctor who willingly gives a false written excuse also needs to find a new line of work because their credibility is worthless.

  • Tony Baranoucky R.Ph

    I strongly believe that any doctor that has falsely written excuses to any person for reason of getting sick pay or some other benefit, should be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law. This also sets a terrible example to the young students these teachers are supposed to be teaching. So it’s okay to lie and cheat when you become an adult? Someone should be investigating this!
    Tony B pharmacist

  • These physicians, if true, should be prosecuted and brought before the ethics board. Their licenses to practice should be suspended or revoked. There is no excuse for fraud nor an excuse to solicit union members to give them notes. The video appears damning. However, it is possible that the union provided “physicians” and these so called doctors may not even be in the professional. Either way, this is a disgrace!!

  • C. Denise Edwards, FAWM

    I am saddened that there are those in the medical profession that would stoop so low as to falsify medical documents. I have worked in the medical field for over twenty five years and never have I seen such blatant disregard and misuse of the profession.

    These so called doctors should be tried and receive sanctions or more.

    I will go on working with those noble doctors that spend their time and efforts in the medical profession, not illegal and improper acts as portrayed in these cases.

    I am also a college teacher of 18 years and find the doctors action and the Unions an affront to right to work and negotiating in a proper manor.

    The above are my own views and may not be the views of those in my society.

    C. Denise Edwards, FAWM

  • Dick Swabian

    Some Dummkopf Humans Are Teaching Future Generations What?

  • Michael Massey

    Physicians, as well as the rest of us, should behave honorably.
    I must point out, however, that AAPS is showing its true colors by its focus on this issue. By opposing the health care law, it betrays a pro-profit and an anti-universal coverage bias that will cost the federal gtovernment huge sums and, most importantly, will cost those without access to insurance their lives. Weighing in on the false medical excuse issue similarly continues the fight against workers in need of gaining and keeping esential benefits.

  • Frank Timmins

    Isn’t is curious how civil and even criminal acts of illegality invoke different responses from the national media based upon which part of the political spectrum is involved? I remember how the media feverishly sought out racially or otherwise uncivil (but legal) slogans on signs at the tea party rallies last summer. It seems like the illegal and unethical acts of these doctors in Wisconsin are being presented by the media more as heroic support for the oppressed unions than the reality that they are denegrating to the medical profession.

  • Don W Boyer, M.D.

    Michael Massey: There is no need for those without insurance to not get treatment and die. All they need to do is to go to the nearest “non-profit” hospital. By law that hospital will have to treat them or the hospital will lose its non-profit status. I am a retired surgeon and have been on the Board of Trustees of a non-profit hospital for many years, so unlike you I know what I’m “talking” about. Our local hospital does a little over $1,000,000 of “charity care” EACH AND EVERY MONTH!!

  • Although it may be a noble act to stand up for one’s convictions and those who do should be applauded for their courage, these physicians should realize that the privilege of practicing medicine is regulated by the state. The state therefore, may deny that privilege (via license revocation or denial, imprisonment, fines, excessive regulation, etc.)
    Any physician who is willing to falsify medical information is being patently dishonest. Obviously, there are examples of times when the physician is acting in a patient’s best health interest by manipulating medical information (such as saving patients in Nazi Germany by conscientious doctors). Thankfully, these examples are rare and have usually been employed when: 1. the patient’s life or physical health was at risk and 2. When the state has coercive control through violence and the patient is denied choice. The protests in Wisconsin do not measure up to those standards. It is unethical for physicians to provide work excuses and not even exam the patients in order to support an ideology. Unethical behavior is unacceptable and in medicine is especially pernicious and nefarious. A willingness to participate in such behavior calls into questions the physician’s professional judgment. Would a patient trust a physician, who has a proven track record of such behavior, to behave differently while the patient was emotionally vulnerable, ignorant, unable to give consent or sedated? Vulnerable patients could be easily exploited and subject to other unethical behaviors such as sexual misconduct, molestation, overcharging or the performing of unnecessary procedures. When it really mattered and the physician was called into question, could the patient be sure such a physician would be honest?
    Some of these Wisconsin ‘doctors’ have rebutted criticism by claiming the ‘excuse seeking patients’ are being made ‘physically ill’ by emotional stress and anxiety of the situation; and (the doctors) are therefore, being good physicians by offering the patients ’emotional support’ which will improve their mental and physical health through stress relief. It would stand to reason, that patients who are this emotionally labile may not be the best choice of persons to be providing services to the public. I for one would not want someone with this type of mental constitution having access to hundreds of school children (i.e. teachers) on a regular basis. Also, it would appear that allowing persons with such mental health issues, access to elected government officials may be very unwise. Such a miscalculation could result in deadly consequences as was evidenced earlier by an ’emotionally disturbed’ individual in Arizona who opened fire on representative Giffords. The horrific results of that individual’s carnage were that 19 people were shot, 6 fatally, including a 9 year old. These physicians should before making a stand, take into consideration that they could be held fully accountable for their actions and be willing to take the inevitable consequences of their behavior.

  • Cathy Stephens

    These doctors should have their liscense suspended, fined or whatever else can be done. This is not right.

  • Kathy

    I have respect for most doctors, but those that “sell out” are just unethical and therefore they should find another career! I have enjoyed reading all of these comments because I see that America still believes in truth, no matter what Obama says. No appology here!

  • Steve Bayruns

    Governor Walker must hold firm and NOT give in to these obvious law breakers! After this is all over; the Governor should go after the doctors, the teachers, and the runaway Liberal Democrats with lawsuits. Then make them all pay for the cost of such a legal action !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pamela

    Well, well, well…

    25 years ago my med. school class took the “Modified Oath of Geneva”, which is pretty darned watered-down. If I hadn’t been exhausted and 8 months pregnant at the time, maybe I would’ve looked into it more. It says in part, “I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my first consideration,” and “I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession…”

    The Hippocratic Oath, in contrast, says in part, “With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art….and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption…” Does anyone take the Hippocratic Oath anymore?

    What can we expect? The vast majority of politicians won’t honor their oath to protect and defend the Constitution. All I can say is, I hope those weren’t real doctors. If they were–zounds. Terrible.

  • Jeanee

    AAPS is like a breath of fresh air during these trying times. I am so grateful to all the Doctors that have taken a stand against Obamacare, government interference in our lives, and now are critical of the WI doctors that are playing ball with the union members.

    These WI doctors, misusing their profession, aligning themselves with union members, should lose their licenses. They are a disgrace. WI teachers are also conducting themselves in a disgusting manner are are certainly not role models. They should be fired. When I think of union members, I think of thugs and this is exactly how the union members are conducting themselves.

  • Gary Hern

    A Union that want’s you to lie as to your where abouts, will have no problem packing the ballot box’s they control. That is why card check is unpopular. People who think it is OK, to cheat to get what they want also think it is OK, to have their special paychecks and retirement santioned without regard to how and where the money is going to come from when their only income is Tax’s from the shoulders of their fellow citizens. The Unions represent 20% of the population and their paychecks come from the other 80%. When an employee pays very little or no money into a system and ex-pects unrealistict returns such as Hedge funds, then this bubble will eventually bust!

    Wake up Americans, Unions worked well in the thirties and forties when there were no retirement funds, when the Government helped no one except for those who donated to them. Even today Congress and the Senate do not pay into Social Security, their paychecks and their retirement funds come from taxes that they claim they are entitled to and are designed same as the Unions unrealistic retirement funds.

    The Unions support only those politictians who support them, and they as well as the ACLU exist only to line their pockets and help only those who support their agendas.

    When you email President Obama, you will be asked to fill in the information that applies to you and then he asks for a donation before you even get to the part of wanting to tell or relate what is on your mind. The union and the President always want to know what you are willing to do for him or them before they even want to know what the person(s) they are serving want to ask of them.

    These servants are suppose to be willing to sacrafice in order to serve the public, even the Union’s are there to serve their members not the other way around. Some how the words “Public Servant” has become we deserve the very best, we want something more than what the public tax payer has! It used to be an honor to be hired by the State or Federal Government, who were the public servants who served?

    The ACLU used to stand up for the little guy, with over six hundred thousand members and no longer viewed as communists, what little guy? When States vote by a majority rule that is Constitutional they want it thrown out, without even a vote? When a Union demands a pay raise or a better cost of living allowance, such as state employees receive, where is the money coming from? It all comes from every citizen who pays taxes in each State and into the Federal System, the little guy. That is who pays for the Union’s paycheck, that is who pay’s for the ACLU’s paycheck. Not the union dues collected, that money is used to buy politictians at election time.

    Add up the money collected and money paid out to special donations and to advertisement and it exceedes the dues. Your Employer and the tax’s paid by other citizens as well as yourself pays for your rights to strike, your rights to barter for medical and healthe care. Rights not even enjoyed by the little guy who pays his and her’s taxes in order that the 20% get a better living then they did or even do! We the American TAX payer can no longer afforid the Unions or the ACLU that all need to Cease to Exist as illegal conglomerants that drain our public sectors of needed money to afford
    to do even the basic jobs of maintaning our streets, our fire departments, our schools and eveh our hospitals.

    The very people out saying they are sick, in order to organize against the States they work for have crippeled their very existance, they need to dig another hole because the sewer is backed up and the crap they want us to shovel is their own. The Federal Government is broke and 70% of our States are broke. Unions & the ACLU are like our Democrat and Republican Parties, out for themselves, they serve only themselves and want every one to give them special previlages so they can give special privialges to those who support their agendas. “Cease to Exist”, means your speical fund no
    longer works, it is a scheme it get some thing you did not pay for and if someone is going to support the idea, eventually they end up in Jail, ask Bernie Maddoff..

  • Karen

    Excellent! As a family having both teachers and doctors, we agree with the article and with AAPS’s stand. Additionally, commenting on “Apparently, they are not contributing voluntarily to a fund to pay teachers who stay home, but want the taxpayers to do that,” I could replace a few words to add meaning to another of today’s relevant causes: “Apparently, they {Planned Parenthood} are not contributing voluntarily to a fund to pay for abortions for poor women, but want the taxpayers to do that.” We pray that that funding will come to an end, and that some of the blood will be off of our tax-paying hands.

  • S. Hood

    I am not all surprised that doctors would forge “sick notes” for the striking “educators”. I get routine requests for sick notes for patients who are in my office for routine prevention, such as a flu shot or EKG. We can blame bureaucratic institutions that place great weight on doctor sick notes, an infantilizing requirement from the unions’ hierarchy, that hearkens to the days of junior high.

    Should I request a “bank note” when I meet the loan officer to get a float loan to cover my rent? Should I show this note to the IRS?
    Idiocy perpetuates itself. Any doctor fraudulently signing such a note has already left the standards of our profession, whatever they may be, in the toilet. Nobody will punish these liars, state medical boards do nothing but push papers around once a month.
    Dissolve the unions. Fire these lazy overpaid teachers. Get student teachers. Incentive pay and no more tenure. Wake up, govt workers, the party ended and you were asleep at the wheel. The taxpayers are your bosses and they’re not in good mood.

  • Josephine Kischer

    Thank you AAPS and the Doctors taking a stand on this. By alligning themselves with the Union those so-called doctors prove the radicals slogan “the ends justify the means” at all costs. I hope it will cost them their licenses.

  • Steve

    I have a simple solution. Since the government has insisted on obtaining “Facial Recognition Software,” lets run the faces of those protesting against the facial profiles of teachers and government workers out on “sick leave.” Anyone identified should be discharged from their taxpayer paid position. Any physicians identified in the crowd signing for those obviously not sick should be examined for fraudulent representation.

  • Bill Hopper

    I am not a physician but know that every legitimate physicians’ association should jump on this outrageous abuse immediately regardless of their political suasion!

    The basic credibility of all physicians is at stake. The loss of trust will have terrible and lasting ramifications for all physicians.

    It is truly scary what this leftist assault on the reputations of all members of the medical profession is being made in support of unfettered ‘unionism’.

    This misbegotten leftist activism must be stopped!

  • Howard Long MD

    Liars should not be trusted- whether doctor or president.
    Avoid them.

  • Thomas Bump

    How about the students that bring a note to school to be excused for missing a day and it is signed but nor by the parent? No difference, and just what are the teachers teaching the students who are at the demonstration and see this going on? Teaching to lie !!

  • Dr. Carmine Lisella

    As a retired teacher and union negotiations chair, I sympathize with the WI teachers. However, they should be willing to strike openly even in the face of a Taylor-like law. The sick- out is insipid and feeble. I also agree that Doctors should not support the teachers in this way; they need to take care of their patients and act responsibly. If they support the teachers, they should also be up front and go to a rally or extend a contribution. I am politically conservative but do understand the place for unions among teachers but I also think that teachers should stand up without equivocation and that in turn the governor or local negotiating bodies need to legally come to conflict with workers’ demands and out of the fire storm will rise the Phoenix.

  • Edward Chastka MD

    The state of Wisconsin or the local school districts should request the medical records of teachers absent on the sick out days and fire those who are not legitimately ill. This would also expose the fraudulent doctors.

  • Henry Leunissen

    Why are we still paying for a public school system that is too expensive and produces poor results if alternate systems do a better job at a lower price. The unions have outlived their usefulness.

  • Sheri Carpenter

    I think the doctors and the teachers should be fired.

  • Michael Massey

    Dr Boyer: Your indicating that I do not know what I am talking about is unfortunate. Please let us seek to maintain civility.
    Many without health insurance cannot receive the sort of routine care necessary to avoid and treat chronic conditions. I know many people personally who are in that category. The outpatient clinics supported under the new health care law will treat many who otherwise would not be treated, for a variety of potential reasons, through existing service providers. As you know, after treatment is delayed, conditions worsen and, yes, people die due to inability to access treatment sooner. I am sincerely glad that your organization shows benevolence to such a great degree; however, I know that many in our community and throughout the country end up getting treatment at an advanced stage of their condition and through the most expensive portal due to restricted access to routine care. Weakening unions and attempting to weaken the new health care law without viable substitute measures for supporting regular individual healthcare will doubtlessly cost more money and more lives.

  • curran,rm

    Don’t tell me those guys are really doctors. That is the worst imitation of American medicine I have ever seen. They should be decertified licensed denied and get psychiatric counseling just as the other bullies there . That is after they are denied all and any privileges they may have in any ethical institution. And then serve their penalty for fraud. I once thought there was nothing worse than a pedophile.

  • marilyn

    hmmmmm wonder if these same doctors would make fraudulent claims against medicare also?????

  • Sheilah Halker

    I am sickened beyond measure to hear that people we are supposed to look up to and trust are stooping to such levels. This includes Teacher’s, Senator’s, Doctor’s, who are not living up to the public trust. What does this behavior say to future generations? God help us all.

  • K White MD

    I was horrified to hear of the behavior of these physicians! Also trying to suggest to FOX News that the reporter was attempting to violate HIPAA by asking them about their phony sick notes! I’m not sure how HIPAA is protected on a public street corner with thousands of people around.

    I thank God I live in a right to work state. The unions are greedy and seek nothing but hand outs and political power. The people on strike should be the first ones fired and any physicians committing this fraud should be fired along with them!

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