November 22, 2011

"Madison School District ordered to turn over sick notes."

Wisconsin State Journal reports on what was a victory for the State Journal:
State Journal editor John Smalley said the court ruling was a victory for open records and government accountability. He said the newspaper was not planning to publish individual teacher names but rather report on the general nature of the sick notes the district received from employees.

"We felt all along the records were an important part of an important story in our community," Smalley said. "Now we'll be able to review and better understand how the school district handled the delicate matter of dealing with all these sick notes."...

The district had argued that the notes contain medically sensitive information and would cause "embarrassment and annoyance" to most of the teachers involved...

Schools in Madison were closed for four days in February as teachers coordinated a sick-out to attend protests on the Capitol Square of Gov. Scott Walker's curtailing of collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The district required absent teachers to submit notes from doctors if they were legitimately sick. Those who didn't were docked pay.

43 comments:

PatCA said...

Oh my! Pushing back against our moral betters in the left.

Hagar said...

In this case I think the names should be published - patient and doctor both.

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

I think if the WSJ were planning on publishing everything, the Judge would not have ordered to turn over the sick notes, as the plan would run into HIPPA.

I'm not sure why the names should be published. To stir outrage?

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfed said...

As a teacher I would not have taken the day off for bad political theater, but if I had I would have used a Personal Leave day as opposed to a Sick Day. I save my PLDs for those days when the waves are perfect or the winds are excellent for sailing. I never waste something as precious as a PLD. I save them for the sublime...

Revenant said...

I think if the WSJ were planning on publishing everything, the Judge would not have ordered to turn over the sick notes, as the plan would run into HIPPA.

I don't see how the judge could legally justify turning them over to the WSJ but *not* publishing them. The WSJ has no more right to see them than anyone else in America does.

Chuck66 said...

It would be interesting to see how many have the exact same excuse/issue written down. That would be a red flag that they are fake. Or how many are just lame.

X said...

Why do teachers think they should be paid for their political activity by the taxpayers? That's not their job.

Pogo said...

"The WSJ has no more right to see them than anyone else in America does."

Since they are, some of them, false, and fraud was involved both in requesting and providing them, the taxpayers certainly have a right to see them.

More, medicine has already been politicized by Obama et al. Why stop now?

Pogo said...

All that's needed is to flag those excuses provided by the MDs known to have committed fraud, and cite those teachers.

MadisonMan said...

It would be interesting to see how many have the exact same excuse/issue written down.

Agreed. I look forward to reading the story.

Like I mentioned last week, it just boggles my mind that someone requires a Doctor's note...it seems so Junior High. Give people days off, and when they run out, they can't have any more, i.e., they are fired. Partitioning them between personal days, sick days, vacation days, etc., just adds to the overhead of keeping track of things.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
I think if the WSJ were planning on publishing everything, the Judge would not have ordered to turn over the sick notes, as the plan would run into HIPPA.

I'm not sure why the names should be published. To stir outrage?


arguably the teacher has some right to privacy with regard to the diagnosis. however, I don't think the doctors have any such right.

I'd like to see an analsysi that shows,

doctor, diagnosis, frequency

as for HIPAA, it was described by the Union as a "sick-out", a political act. In the public arena. The public has some right to know at that point, particularly when some districts colluded with the Union.

The Drill SGT said...

analysis

I kan spell

TosaGuy said...

Why would HIPPA apply to those faking sick? HIPPA applies to one's medical privacy, not as a tool to hide one's lack of morals.

Given how HIPPA could potentially be abused as part of a coordinated effort between lefty doctors and unions, those doctors who wrote fake notes should have been sanctioned much more than a slap on the wrist.

Calypso Facto said...

Day late and dollar short. The doctors have already been investigated and let off without substantial punishment. The teachers have already been excused and they will face no moral censure within their self-interested circle.

Publication in the State Journal will just be a liar's badge of honor to most in this relativistic "ends justify the means" crowd.

Pogo said...

"Partitioning them between personal days, sick days, vacation days, etc., just adds to the overhead of keeping track of things."

"Adding to the overhead" is the entire plan of public unions.

SteveR said...

I think you lose the right to complain about the types of things that were being discussed in Feb, when you fake sick days.

If you are so committed to the cause, take real leave (paid or not paid).

The Drill SGT said...

Calypso Facto said...
Day late and dollar short. The doctors have already been investigated and let off without substantial punishment.


that was the 7 docs in the plaza, but what about the rest, in offices?

that's where the dr, diagnosis and freq info might prove enlightening, or at least the WSJ and I think so.

Curious George said...

"Pogo said...
All that's needed is to flag those excuses provided by the MDs known to have committed fraud, and cite those teachers."

Yep. HIPAA doesn't cover fraud

edutcher said...

I read this and I hear that little Elmer Bernstein riff that was played every time Yul Brynner recruited another gunfighter.

The Drill SGT said...

analysis

I kan spell


One too many ells.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm not sure why the names should be published. To stir outrage?

Well....duh. YES.

The teachers who took sick days to pursue political theater and protests were literally stealing money from the taxpayers.

They are paid to teach. Sick days are for when you are actually sick and are a privilege that MOST working people do not have.

They abused the system for their own selfish personal desires. They should be punished and exposed for the thieves that they are.

Fen said...

I'm not sure why the names should be published. To stir outrage?

To name and shame.

And add to the Googgle registry of "fraudulent doctors"

FOIA them. These unethical bitches don't deserve privacy in this matter.

Peter said...

BUT if the notes are fake then they contain no medical information (sensitive or otherwise).

AND if they're fake, what exactly is wrong with their disclosure causing "embarrassment and annoyance"?

Jason said...

Bad ruling.

HIPAA applies to all the notes except those that one can already identify as fraudulent. Since there is no way of breaking those out, then the school districts have a legal responsibility to safeguard personally identifiable information.

Holy crap, that applies ESPECIALLY to media organizations that will make medical information public to millions.

The workaround is this: Redact the teachers' names from the sick notes. So the only thing you see is the medical reasoning, the doctor information, and break it out by school/city/district or whatever.

For it to have validity, you need to compare it to the same period in prior years. What is the difference between sick rates this year versus last year and the year before?

And are just a few doctors signing way more sick notes this year than in prior years? Then you might be able to build an interesting story.

Otherwise, though, this is an infringement on medical privacy and seems to me illegal under HIPAA.

Original Mike said...

"I'm not sure why the names should be published."

Future deterrence.

Original Mike said...

But, yeah, I don't see how this squares with HIPPA. Doctors yes; patients no.

Thorley Winston said...

I think if the WSJ were planning on publishing everything, the Judge would not have ordered to turn over the sick notes, as the plan would run into HIPPA.

I don’t think that HIPAA would cover this sort of disclosure unless the information came through the health plan. An employer requiring a doctor’s note to control absences or provide paid or unpaid leave likely wouldn’t be covered under this.


I'm not sure why the names should be published. To stir outrage?

I think that could very well be the case . . . and what’s wrong with that? It used to be that the media likened itself as the “fourth estate” who was called to act as a watchdog of the going ons of government and a story about public employees cheating the system by using phony doctor notes to take off time and shut down the schools at the expense of school children and their parents seems like exactly the sort of thing that the media ought to be reporting. Naming names is part of that story.

Original Mike said...

"Naming names is part of that story."

If it's proper for Johns and drunk drivers, why is it improper for public employees committing fraud?

MadisonMan said...

Outrage is exhausting.

Original Mike said...

"Outrage is exhausting."

And, yet, you signed the petition. Thanks a lot.

Amartel said...

Accountability!
(It's not just for other people.)




Countdown to figurative slap on token wrist in 3, 2, ....

kimsch said...

One of the reasons that medical care costs so much is that one must necessarily go to see a doctor to obtain a doctor's note for an absence. Many times an illness can be treated easily and completely at home without the need to see a doctor who will just tell you to take some over-the-counter medications and/or stay home for a day or two until it goes away on its own.

This also leads to sick people going to work and infecting other people (and not doing their own work well) because they don't want to go to a doctor.

It can also take several days to get an appointment with a doctor and many times the illness will be under control by the time you actually can get in to see the doctor.

wv: glughs

Dan from Madison said...

Can't we just stop beating around the bush and call it what it really was - a wildcat strike? Illegal.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I'm sure those were the finest sick notes that WEA Trust could buy.

MadisonMan said...

@OMike, no, I haven't.

One of the reasons that medical care costs so much

Here's another one. Everytime I take the kid to see his pediatrician (I find it odd that he dwarfs his pediatrician now), we have to stop to "register" so they can, one more time, ask us where we live, and if anything has changed. IT NEVER DOES. There are 5 people working registration, just at this clinic. I can only guess at the numbers of Registers there are city wide.

Original Mike said...

"@OMike, no, I haven't."

You posted earlier that you would more than likely sign, because .... Well, I didn't understand your justification. So if you've decided not to, congratulations. If you simply haven't had the opportunity yet, then small difference.

MadisonMan said...

I'm just put off by the overeagerness of the signature-pursuers and the expectation that because I live where I live, of course I'll sign. And I'm not thrilled with signing without knowing who the Democratic Candidate is. I've walked past two petitioners, and ignored one who came to my door (I was in the basement doing laundry).

If there was actual malfeasance involved -- hello John Doe investigation? -- I'd be more inclined to sign. Normally I do sign anything!

But it's all exhausted me. Or maybe it's the grey sky outside and the season.

Original Mike said...

We had a petition gatherer come to our door during the Packer game. The Packer game! Grrrrr....

MadisonMan said...

I hope they at least asked what the score was!

Original Mike said...

She was wearing a Packer jacket! I think it was some sort of disguise.

Eric said...

In this case I think the names should be published - patient and doctor both.

Isn't that normal when you charge someone with fraud?

Grumpy Old Man said...

Lets see, Wisconsin state employees get 3 weeks of sick leave, 3-5 weeks of vacation leave depending on seniority and 4 1/2 personal days annually. I can see why thet would get bogus sick notes. No sense in using personal days or vacation time.