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Is it Unethical to Use a Fake Doctor's Note?
A few years ago, there was a story in the media about a New York City school employee, who lied about her daughter dying. And she submitted a fake death certificate to support her fallacy. Her reasons, for doing so, was that she was vacationing in Costa Rica and she wanted to lengthen her time on the island; so, her plan was to use her daughter's "death" to get extra leave.
For the most part, lying about the death of a close relative is quite extreme. And most people would not even consider doing that. Moving on to the question at hand: Is there anything inherently immoral about turning in a fallacious doctor's note? It is evident, that at one point or another you may have been stressed out from work or school.
Creating a fake doctor's note is as easy as checking your e-mail messages. All you have to do is Google, "fake doctor's note," and there will be many hits for websites were you can purchase falsified medical excuse notes. You may or may not have felt tempted to use a fake doctor's note to take a day off from work or get extra time on a school project.
Here are some things to consider when using a fabricated doctor's note.
Your Employer May Not Even Know
Generally, employers require a physician's note when an employee misses work or when the employee needs to take time off from work for health reasons. Your employer doesn't care about your medical conditions. But, he or she still needs a physician's note to make sure that you really need time off from work or that you didn't miss work just for the sake of, "not being in the mood to come to work."
The fact of the matter, is that employers are too swamped with work themselves to verify if a doctor's note is real or fake. The same goes for college professors; many, lecturers have full-time jobs outside of the college and/or pursuing other degrees. Teachers just don't have the time to substantiate a doctor's note. Unless there are obvious signs that the document is fake (which was the case with the school employee mentioned earlier), your employer is not going to check. There are also HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy laws which prevents your employer from accessing your medical records or talking to your health care provider(s).
Just because your employer or professor may not know that your doctor's note is fake, it still doesn't make the practice right. Although it's still important to note that, an inauthentic doctor's note can't cause much harm if no one even knows that you used one.
Did you ever give a fake doctor's note to your boss or professor?
Using a Fake Doctor's Note May Not Even Benefit You
Depending on what type of job you have, using a false doctor's note may not benefit you much. The reason being is that if you don't even get any paid sick days then you are actually losing wages. According to the Center for American Progress, there are more than 40 million Americans who do not receive any paid sick leave. Also low-income workers are the less likely to receive paid sick days than workers who earn six-figures. For a low-income worker, even missing a few days of work could mean a substantial loss of income necessary to meet monthly bills, according to the Center for American Progress.
If you are a college student, giving your professor a fake doctor's note after missing class definitely would not benefit you. While you can catch up on homework assignments or make-up exams, when you miss class you still lose out on lecture time. Some college students will even fake an illness the day of an exam to try to get more study time. Here's the problem with that: If you weren't studying much throughout the semester, even if you get to take the test at a later date, you may still fail the exam.
There are the common cliches, "The truth shall set you free" and "Honesty is the best policy." Falsifying a physician's note to give to your boss or professor is indeed an act of professional misconduct. We all get stressed out from work, school, or other responsibilities, but that doesn't mean we should lose our integrity either. As mentioned earlier, it is unlikely that your employer or teacher would even find out that you used a fake note. However, it's crucial that you get to the root of the problem and face it head-on. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself: Do I need help with time management? Are there problems at work I can communicate to my boss? Is there additional training that I need?
While it may tempting (and easy) to create a fake medical excuse letter, please refrain from doing so.