'Don't have time' for sick notes: doctors
Doctors in Nova Scotia are appealing to employers to waive their sick-note policies during the swine flu pandemic.
Dr. Rick Gibson, chief of the Department of Family Practice for the Capital District Health Authority, said the practice is putting an unnecessary strain on the health-care system.
"Under the current circumstances, we're all sort of stressed and working to the max," he said.
Gibson said as an example, the emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax is 15 to 20 per cent busier than average.
In addition, flu assessment clinics are each seeing up to 200 people per day, officials said.
"Quite frankly, we don't have time to write sick notes," said Gibson.
There are signs posted in the health authority's emergency rooms and flu assessment centres that say, "Please note. We are not able to provide sick leave notes."
Two of the largest employers in the province — Nova Scotia Power and Farmers Dairy — have waived their sick-note policies for the time being.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief public health officer, said he's frustrated other employers are not getting the message.
"Especially right now, asking their employees to go to the doctor's office and get a note is just not an appropriate use of the health-care system," he said. "Unfortunately, there's no legislative capacity to stop that."
Writing sick notes is not covered under the publicly funded medicare system but many doctors do it as a courtesy under ordinary circumstances.