A medical certificate or doctor's certificate is a written statement from a physician or other medically qualified health care provider which attests to the result of a medical examination of a patient. It can serve as a "sick note" (documentation that an employee is unfit for work) or evidence of a health condition.
Purpose and applications
Medical certificates are sometimes required to obtain certain health benefits from an employer, to make an insurance claim, for tax purposes, or for certain legal procedures. Medical certificates are used to indicate eligibility of activity, such as the use of disabled parking. Medical certificates can also be used to describe a medical condition a person has, such as blindness. Medical certificates are often used to certify that someone is free of contagious diseases, drug addiction, mental illness, or other health issues.
Health criteria are often required when making an application for something, such as an eye examination to get a driver's license. Other times medical criteria are presented voluntarily by an applicant in a self-assessment, without either a doctor or access to the person's medical record. Specific health criteria or medical history are required for certain jobs.
In the United States, most aviators are required to possess a valid medical certificate that certifies sound health as part of the requirements for piloting an airplane or helicopter. While airman certificates are issued for life, the medical certificate expires and must be renewed periodically in order continue flying privileges. Sport pilots may use a valid state driver's license in place of a medical certificate, and glider and hot air balloon pilots are not required to obtain them.
The term aegrotat (abbreviated as aegrot) is used primarily in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations. In the context of British undergraduate degrees a student who is too ill to finish may be awarded an aegrotat degree if the student otherwise would have passed exams or other requirements.
Impact on occupation
Except in certain unique circumstances, a holder of a medical certificate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration may not "act as pilot in command or in any other capacity as a required flight crewmember of an aircraft".
A patient with conditions such as: measles, chicken-pox, hepatitis A, leprosy, typhoid fever, and whooping cough, can return to work immediately after their healing phase or medical tests. Almost always the patient may only be allowed to return to work upon submission of a medical certificate.
Sometimes, there are standards and procedures in place, for workers in a certain field to be eligible to receive a medical certificate. Any airman at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration must give their employees access to the National Driver Register. On top of this, other tests which are required for first-, second- and third-class airmen are: eye, ear/nose/throat/equilibrium, mental, neurologic, and cardiovascular.
The India List and India Office List 1905 explains that officers on "Long Leave in Europe" must, among other things, provide a medical certificate, which is obtained at the Medical Board of India Office.
Practical Guide to Employees' State Insurance Act, Rules and Regulations explains that under the ESI Act, the employee must obtain a medical certificate via the ESI Dispensary/Hospital, which then gets deposited at the nearest office of the ESI Corporation.
As many illnesses can come about suddenly, sometimes the worker will not have enough time to receive a medical certificate, or may be too sick to obtain one. In other cases, the worker may not be bothered to go to the trouble of getting one, or may be lying about their illness and want to falsify a certificate to back up their story to their boss.
There have been discussions regarding whether it is okay to fire someone for submitting a fabricated medical certificates. In many cases, it is deemed wrong, such as in Australia where a bank officer was dismissed after handing in a forged certificate, which prompted a Fair Work Australia Commissioner to say they had a "continued lack of regard for the truth". Another example is a WA police officer who was stood down after committing the same offense. Sometimes it is not so black and white. In one case, a woman claimed she was "coerced into falsifying [a] medical certificate [which ultimately led to her being fired] because she was 'being bullied and treated unfairly' by two managers".
There are some companies that sell fake medical certificates. Although the site Doctors Note Store sells "fake sick notes and medical certificates for workers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom", they add that the "fakes are for 'novelty use only'".
At Flinders University, "providing a forged medical certificate" is viewed as academic misconduct.
In New South Wales, medical professionals who "deliberately issue a false, misleading or inaccurate certificate" can be charged under the Medical Practice Act. This is in response to The New South Wales Medical Board "receiving numerous complaints from employers, insurers, the courts, etc regarding the quality, accuracy and truthfulness of sickness certificates".
In order to prove that one's medical certificate is authentic, the following should be done and taken into consideration:
- Having it written in legible text, in the doctor's handwriting, and without "abbreviations or medical jargon".
- Should only include facts or observations made by the doctor, and each should be justified.
- Should include the date of appointment, how sick the patient is, the date they can go back to work, be addressed to the recipient of the certificate (boss etc.),
- Should only be for something "observed by the doctor" or "reported by the patient and deemed to be true by the doctor".
- Can be issued after the patient has taken sick leave, but it must include the date of appointment, and the length of time the employee should be out of work for.
- Should consider if the patient can return to work before they have fully healed, but with "altered duties".
- Respect "rights to confidentiality" and consent of patient (sometimes, the reason for sick leave may be personal and the patient may request it taken off the certificate, in which case "it should be made clear to the patient that the information provided on the certificate may not be sufficient to attract sick leave and that an employer has the ultimate right to accept or to reject a certificate".
- Falsifying a medical certificate is a form of fraud.
- "Employers should not question a doctor's certificate: AMA". Workplaceinfo.com.au. 2014-12-01. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
- "Doctor's certificate questioned after MP skips parliament". Medical Observer. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- S. Ashtekar (1 January 2001). Health and Healing: A Manual of Primary Health Care. Orient Blackswan. pp. 576–. ISBN 978-81-250-1624-3. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- "Medical certificates". Workplaceinfo.com.au. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Mohammad, Hassan (2016). Shail Medical and Maitarniti Centre. Daira Dubai.
- U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (2009). Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Government Printing Office. p. 16-2. ISBN 0160823676. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
- A New Zealand university policy on aegrotat degrees
- Staff, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1982). "The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America": 12.
- Manual Of Community Nursing and Communicable Diseases. p. 487. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Staff, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1982). "The Code of Federal Regulations of the United States of America": 67.
- The India List and India Office List. p. 262. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Practical Guide to Employees' State Insurance Act, Rules and Regulations. p. 126. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Sacked for Submitting False Medical Certificates - Fair?". Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Employee sacked for creating false medical certificate". Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Officer stood down for allegedly forging medical certificate". December 18, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Sacked worker forged medical certificate and claimed she nearly died because the way she was treated". Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "AMA warns over fake sick notes". Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Important Changes to the University's Student Policies and Procedures". Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Medical Certificates Policy". p. 67. Retrieved January 11, 2013.