Sick Sheet Uproar
Medical and business bodies denounce conduct of doctor, complaint being lodged
Two major bodies have condemned as unethical the conduct of a Suva private doctor who issued sick sheets without check-ups or receipts.
Fiji College of General Practitioners and the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry have called for appropriate action against the doctor.
Fiji College of General Practitioners president Doctor John Fatiaki said the medical fraternity would not side with such doctors who were out to make a quick dollar and did not have the welfare of patients at heart.
He expressed shock at yesterday’s Fiji Sun’s front page article which reported that two of its staff went to the doctor and were provided sick sheets for conjunctivitis which they clearly did not have. They paid a fee for the consultation but got no receipt and were not given an examination. Dr Fatiaki has taken it on himself to lodge a complaint with the Fiji Medical Council.
He said there were several unethical practices highlighted in the Fiji
Sun report. He said: “For a receptionist to ask if a patient is there for a sick sheet is absolutely improper and inappropriate. “The issuance of a sick sheet is at the discretion of the doctor. The girls outside are not allowed to ask what’s wrong with you. Their job is to take down your details. “Secondly, I am surprised that the doctor had asked the staff for his name. He is supposed to have a card.
“This is part of normal practices to show your medical history, there has to be a card, one that needs to be filled out by the receptionist for first time patients. “The next part, the question of a diagnosis and the third part is the issuance of a sick sheet if need be. Patients come to doctors to see the doctor, not to discuss with the receptionist whether a sick sheet is required.” Dr Fatiaki also examined the
Fiji Sun staff and ruled out any signs of conjunctivitis which would warrant a sick sheet. He told them: “Neither of you have any symptoms. Normally doctors would ask questions related to the sickness.”
Dr Fatiaki said the College took such a complaint very seriously and assured that this matter would not be swept under the carpet. “This will not be something that will be sitting on the table for months. “This will be immediately forwarded to the council for their investigations and this will be dealt with. “What we are dealing here is an issue of ethics. “We are professionals, we have standards, we have codes of behaviour and ethics and it is a very trusted and respected profession and with that comes responsibilities,” he said.
He said that in such cases, doctors could expect “the book to be thrown at them”. Dr Fatiaki also praised the media and especially the Fiji Sun for highlighting such an issue.
Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Mazey has also expressed his concerns about such practice.
“Doctors issuing false sick sheets, without examining the patient, are being fraudulent, as they are charging for a service they haven’t provided, as such maybe it is time for the law to investigate. “Any sickness of employees is a loss of productivity to a business and as such is passed on to all consumers as it is seen as “a cost of doing business”,” Mr Mazey said.
He also highlighted that trust was fundamental to a good working relationship between employers and employees. “And as such where we discover false sick days being given it is of concern because we lose trust in the employee. “We must always work under our contract of employment with all employees and this is always for a specified number of sick days, a minimum of 10 days per annum. Therefore it is hard for an employer to react if it suspects a false sick sheet. “In the end any employee who is found to be constantly sick will lose out especially when pay increases or renewal of employment contracts are being considered.” Regarding sick sheet scams, Mr Mazey said: “It has been an ongoing problem for many years and we believe it is time that the Fiji Medical Board, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour get involved to stop the practice.”