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As one could surmise, one of the biggest reasons people come to the urgent care is to simply get a doctor’s note for work.

Approaching a big holiday weekend like Memorial Day, the incidence of this spikes — it’s amazing how colds and stomach viruses intelligently know to infect people the week before a 3-day weekend. But any day I work, patients with the primary objective of obtaining a doctor’s note exist as a sort of background radiation to everything else.

Really, the whole policy of requiring a doctor’s note from your employees as if they were kindergartners is not only futile, but even counterproductive to a corporation’s bottom line. After all, the company is paying for their insurance to cover the visit for the work note… which ultimately means that the employer is forking over money every time an employee calls out, on top of lost productivity.

And what is the point, anyway? There are even websites dedicated to generating fraudulent work notes. (You’re welcome!) The only ways to prevent people from goldbricking (i.e. calling out when they really shouldn’t) are #1. Hire people with a decent work ethic or #2 If that is impossible because you’re too cheap to pay a living wage, or else your employees belong to a public-sector union and therefore have an incentive to not give a shit about their jobs: have a doctor or PA on your payroll to see all workers who call out.

Or even better: stop calling them “sick days” at all, and start calling them all “personal days.” Acknowledge that sometimes, people need a day simply because they are overwhelmed… and forcing them to fake a stomach virus to the urgent care doctor accomplishes nothing. The vast majority of “Just Here for the Doctor’s Note” patients I see have some combination of stress, family commitments, and/or possibly a low-grade illness or backache. Most aren’t here to abuse the system, and the ones who are can easily be detected by the employer — if the managers bother enough to care. (Which rules out most government departments, sadly.)

If a patient has some kind of chronic disability, then the ADA requires you as an employer to work around it. Otherwise, just deduct a personal day and stop obsessing that your otherwise good employee is somehow “scamming” you when in reality, they just need to finally catch up on their sleep and spend a day with their kids who otherwise never see them.

In any event, it’s doubtful that anyone will be taking my advice here, and so the front desk will continue to churn out work notes every day I’m on the job. Along with “Prescriptions for Zyrtec,” this represents another kind of visit that really requires no medical knowledge from the provider, and is just an inefficiency baked into the system. But, just like Prescriptions for Zyrtec, at least it lets me feel like I’ve helped a patient out. I have no problem giving you a day off if you really need it and your thick-skulled employer requires a doctor’s note for all days off.

Just… don’t ask for one literally every single week.