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.