Got the flu? Now is not the time for a sick note: Ontario's doctors

TORONTO, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - In advance of what is shaping up to be an unprecedented flu season, Ontario's doctors are encouraging employers to reconsider asking their employees for a sick note from a physician because of an absence from work. While Ontario's doctors are asking employers to trust their employees, they are stressing that employees shouldn't take advantage of this year's flu situation as an opportunity to simply take a day off.

"In order to help reduce the transmission of H1N1 and other illnesses, Ontario's doctors believe it is wise for patients to stay home when they have flu-like symptoms," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "Employers need to recognize that by requiring a sick note, they are encouraging those who are experiencing their worst symptoms and are most infectious to go out, when they should just be home in bed."

If a patient has mild flu-like symptoms and no pre-existing illnesses of concern, the most important thing that can be done to prevent others from being infected is to stay home. Going to the doctor's office just to get a note or going to work puts many others at risk.

It is anticipated that while most cases of H1N1 and seasonal influenza will be mild, those who get sick are being asked to protect others who may be more vulnerable to the virus. In addition, while many patients with H1N1 or the seasonal flu will be able to recover under their own care and without needing medical treatment, it is important that a patient see a doctor if symptoms worsen or if they have a chronic and/or pre-existing health condition, or are in a high-risk population group.

"Ontario's doctors know that there will be added pressures and increased work load this flu season but we are ready to care for and treat our patients," Dr. Strasberg said. "It's important for everyone to do as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu and reduce the strain on the health care system. It's equally important that we continue to focus on patients who need care, rather than those who just need a note."

For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or toll-free at 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862