The University of Wisconsin medical school says it's investigating reports that doctors from the school handed out medical excuse notes to protesters at the state Capitol this weekend.
Doctors from numerous hospitals set up a station near the Capitol on Saturday to provide notes to explain public employees' absences from work. One of those doctors was Lou Sanner, who practices family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Sanner said he had given out hundreds of notes to protesters and many he spoke with seemed to be suffering from stress.
UW Health said Sunday that any doctors who distributed notes did so on their own behalf. The school didn't specifically mention Sanner but said it was looking into cases involving any of the school's doctors.
I have a few additional thoughts regarding yesterday's post on the Professional Misconduct of the physicians giving out sick notes to unionized protestors. Although I still think egos have preceded intellect, they weren't entirely stupid and I suspect have taken some precautions. For instance, the notes that were handed out in no way identifies The University of Wisconsin or The Department of Family Medicine. While it is clear that at least some of these doctors are employed there, time was taken to make these notes as generic as possible. The contact email is from a gmail account, not the more professional uwmf.wisc.edu that would be used for department business. Likely, email@example.com, is being used as a proxy and was created specifically for this action. I could be wrong, of course, and perhaps someone with more IT skill than I could find out when this account was created.
Patrick McKenna is identified on the UW DFM staff and directory page as a PGY 3. This is a resident in his 3 and final year of post graduate training and as such cannot operate independently as the Department of Medical Education is responsible for his actions. Furthermore, the ACGME is the governing body that credentials hospitals and medical centers to provide post grad training and would likely take a very jaundiced view of this. You may be unaware, but over the past several years there has been a significant increase in the regulations and requirements required of the Med Ed department. Specifically as it relates to work hours. How this extracurricular activity will impact that is unclear, but these are questions his employers will soon be asking. For what it's worth, the ACGME has withdrawn the accreditation of programs that fail to meet these requirements. John's Hopkins comes to mind.
Finally, I wonder what carrier is covering this groups malpractice insurance. You can't just set up shop, see everyone on the street and pretend everything is great. This type of action opens these folks up to an incredible liability risk and without required documentation in a medical record or follow up they are sitting ducks to an opportunistic lawyer. If I were a betting man, I would wager that their malpractice insurance is obtained through the Universities Family Medicine Department. I would expect these rates to rise significantly if not dropped outright for this negligent behavior. You see, once you enter into a contract with a patient, you are responsible for them, even if it is on a streetcorner. Hope they didn't miss a stroke in progress or the ever so rare zebra, dermatomyositis.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out and of course the details thus far are limited, but by all accounts this was stupid!
Unbelievable, Kathy Oriel, is quoted in an article at wkow~
Reporter asked, "Do you think you could get in trouble?" Dr. Kathy Oriel said, "Certainly, we think its worth the risk to support the people, and we feel very strongly these are officials who would really like to be in school, and in their classes, but they're put in a position where they really have no choice."
Don't know who Kathy Oriel is? She happens to be the Madison Residency Program Director!. She of course should know better. It is of course very benevolent of her to sacrifice her time outside of the clinic and hospital as an unaffiliated licensed physician, but what of the affiliations of her residents who cannot disconnect themselves from their residency program. Are they aware, as Dr. Oriel seems to be of the potential, ramifications of this action? Surely they aren't filling out excuse slips as unlicensed resident physicians because that would be well beyond their pay grade.
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