UPDATE: UW Health doctor's notes investigation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: UW Health doctor's notes investigation


By Lysée Mitri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- UW Health says its investigating doctors who passed out medical notes to teachers protesting over the weekend.         

It is investigating whether physicians violated medical ethics or University of Wisconsin and UW health policies and work rules.

UW Health wants to remind the public this only involves a few people out the nearly 1,300 doctors working for them.

Some parents with students in Madison schools had mixed feelings about teachers getting these doctor's notes.

"If they really have symptoms fine but if it's just being handed out just for the sake of being handed out I think it's a little unscrupulous," Leila Thayer said.

Pam Guilbault said she was torn.

"I guess I don't agree that [teachers] were told they need to bring a medical excuse," Guilbault said.

The Madison School District said teachers wouldn't get paid without a doctor's note.  The District says it is aware doctors passed out a large number of medical forms.

It is still trying to figure out what to do about the notes. For now, they are collecting names of doctors involved.

One doctor we saw at the protest works with UW Hospital and Clinics and is a residency program director.  No one from UW Health would speak on camera, but their voicemail says, "Anyone passing out such materials was acting on their own accord and does not represent UW Health. We will thoroughly investigate these allegations and take appropriate action."

They also said in a statement, "These charges are very serious... The investigation will identify which UW Health physicians were involved and whether their behavior constituted violations of medical ethics or University of Wisconsin and UW Health policies and work rules."

David Minko, associate attorney in health care and employment law with Murphy Desmond, says patient records must be created when treating someone.

"If something wasn't documented, then it did not occur," he said. "So, if there was an exam and it wasn't documented, then it did not occur from a malpractice standpoint."

He also says an investigation could look at how thorough the exam was.

"From a practical standpoint, treatment generally starts with an assessment of the patient… background information. It's not clear to me that was performed."

We tried talking to the Medical Examining Board, which licenses and disciplines Wisconsin physicians.

Voicemail for the Department of Regulation and Licensing confirmed their office was closed on Monday.

The Wisconsin Medical Society says the Board is aware of the situation though.


MADISON (WKOW/ AP) -- Reports that a Madison doctor handed out medical excuse notes to hundreds of protesters at the Capitol this weekend have driven investigations from the doctor's employer.

Lou Sanner, 59, of Madison, practices family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He was outside the Capitol on Saturday where roughly 68,000 protesters rallied against Gov. Walker's budget bill.

Critics say handing out notes without performing thorough examinations constitutes fraud. According to Sanner, many of the people he talked to seemed to be suffering from stress. He says he talked with individuals first and gave them notes when medically indicated.

UW Health says any doctors who distributed such materials did so on their own behalf and without the knowledge or approval of UW Health.

A UW Health spokesperson released the following statement, "These charges are very serious and in response the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, two of the entities that comprise UW Health, will immediately launch an investigation of the reported behavior."

"The investigation will identify which UW Health physicians were involved and whether their behavior constituted violations of medical ethics or University of Wisconsin and UW Health policies and work rules. The investigation and any potential future action will follow the established procedures of the University of Wisconsin. Any future disciplinary action taken will be considered a personnel matter, and in accord with University of Wisconsin policies, will not be open to public discussion."

The Wisconsin Medical Society says they do not condone the physician's actions under any circumstances. Click here to read the Medical Society's full statement.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison School District has said teachers who call in sick to protest won't be paid.

So, a group of licensed Wisconsin physicians came to the Capitol Saturday, willing to write a doctor's note for anyone who asked.

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."

The physicians say they're acting on their own, outside of any hospitals or organizations, but they say the notes are valid. They say they're the same notes they issue at their offices.

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