Backdating medical certificates
If the patient is fit for some activities, this should be recorded in the certificate.
Any duties that should not be attempted should also be clearly stated.
The patient and their employer are often in a better position to decide how the doctor’s clinical opinion applies to their particular situation.Most of the time we suggest that doctors should seek your permission, and then include only information that the receiving agency needs in a certificate.In very limited circumstances, where a diagnosis relates to a workplace injury or illness, or when an illness may have an impact on co-workers or members of the public then we say that the doctor should seek your consent and also include on the certificate a diagnosis and the workplace factors which may have contributed. The decision to return to work is often like any other medical decision and involves balancing the risks and benefits of the treatment plan, and any alternatives, before agreeing on the best treatment option.An example of when this might occur is where a doctor believes that a chef is suffering from a food-borne illness. Do the Council’s new guidelines on writing medical certificates for sick or impaired patients mean they will forced back to work when they are still sick or impaired? Sometimes the best option might be for the patient to have time away from work, but there is a developing body of evidence that work is good for health and wellbeing and in other cases the patient might be capable of some work duties and their recovery may actually be assisted if they are at work and performing some work tasks. When doctors, patients and employers all have different rights, responsibilities and needs there will always be a potential for conflict and disagreement.Because of this, it can sometimes be useful for the doctor to consider any information from an employer about the patient’s work environment, the workplace support available and possible alternate duties. The guidelines appear to favour employers and other agencies over patients, is this fair? Our aim with the new statement is not to change this balance of rights, responsibilities and needs –but to help doctors provide better information and to reduce the potential for conflict.