Summer Salad

January/February 2009

Professional

Are sickness certificates doing our patients harm?

Volume 38, No.1, January/February 2009 Pages 61-63

Debra A Dunstan

Background

Over the past 9 years there has been a 70% increase in requests for sickness certificates in Australia. In this same period, an increasing number of people have been certified as permanently disabled for work.

Objective/s

This article highlights the relationship between work and health, and emphasises the detrimental effects of certified work absence. It calls for a reduction in the number and duration of sickness certifications.

Discussion

Current certification practices suggest a lack of understanding of the risks associated with work absence. Issuing a sickness certificate can have negative impacts on health and wellbeing, and general practitioners need to be as cautious when issuing sickness certificates as they are when delivering other treatments associated with significant health risks.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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