Every mildly symptomatic carrier of thecoronavirus who goes to a medical facility soley for a work noterisks exposure to the virus (if they don't already have it), putshealth care workers at additional risk and exhausts the health caresystem's scarcesupply of personal protectiveequipment (PPE). Employers: Stop sending your employees to thedoctor for coronavirus tests. We need hospitals, healthy physiciansand PPEs to deal with the nation's seriously ill, not employers'outdated policies for medical documentation. 

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Responding to the coronavirus,many major corporations are revisingtheir paid sick leave policies tomake it possible for sick workers to stay home without securing anote from a physician. Unfortunately, too many companies areleaning on old familiar ways – and the pressure they are placing onthe health care system adds to the crisis. 

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For example, emergency medicinephysicians are seeing patient visits for the sole purpose ofobtaining work notes. In some cases, employers won't let theirasymptomatic employees come to work without a note saying theydon't have COVID-19, while others want hard proof that an employeespecifically has COVID-19 before they'll pay for additional sickleave. People are coming to ERs desperate for documentation becausetheir livelihood depends on it. 

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We represent a chat-firsttelehealth company, which means we offer an alternative to thistraditional policy. But even our solution shouldn't be necessarywhen it comes to paid sick leave. Forcing people who are ill toseek medical attention just to "prove" that they don't feelwell  creates an unnecessary strain on the health caresystem. 

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If someone comes into the clinicor ER with a plausible story about finally feeling better afterthree days' of back spasms, a doctor can't honestly say whether thepatient was on the couch or in Cancun. The patient is not askingfor a prescription; they're asking for validation. Most doctorswill give it to them. It's a fairly easy encounter for the doctoras long as the goal to secure the note is clearly stated. There'sreally no med-legal risk and the employer in most cases incurs thecharge for the visit. 

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If it doesn't stop people fromplaying hookie, what does this one-size-fits-all policydo?  

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Instead of requiring doctors'notes, it would be far more effective to track absenteeism andproductivity on a case-by-case basis. Is one employee always "sick" the day before a three-day weekend? Deal with themdirectly. Does one person's "work at home" day result in asignificant and measurable loss of productivity? Call thatindividual's practice into question.  

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Some medical clearances, ofcourse, are necessary. A child who suffers a concussion needs aphysician's green light before returning to sports. An injuredwarehouse worker requires a doctor's approval before going back onthe job. And, if someone does test positive for COVID-19, they willneed to be healthy before they can return towork.  

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What these strange timesunderscore is that requiring someone to sit in a room filled withsick people just to get a note excusing their work absence is notnecessary. Companies should consider suspending illnessconfirmation policies to stay in line with our new era of "socialdistancing." 

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The burden to the medicalcommunity, to the employee and to the employer is too high and thetrue effectiveness of a doctor's note isdoubtful. 

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May these difficult days affordemployers the opportunity to revisit policies that not only fail toserve us but put us in harm's way. To stay home is the mosteffective  act of service any of us can perform right now.With or without a note from a doctor. 

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Dena Grablowsky is thePresident of DKG Executive Consulting, LLC, a strategic HumanResources Consulting company and Dr. Blake McKinney is theCo-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of CirrusMD.

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