Wis. Doctors Reprimanded Over Protest Sick Notes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The board that supervises Wisconsin physicians reprimanded seven doctors Wednesday who were accused of writing sick notes for protesters to cover their time at last spring’s massive demonstrations against Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law.

In identical agreements with each doctor, the Medical Examining Board noted that each of them provided work excuse notes to patients without adequately documenting the interaction in their records. Dr. Sujatha Kailas, the board’s chairwoman, said in a statement the board couldn’t determine whether the doctors examined the protesters to justify the excuses.

Besides the reprimands, the board ordered the physicians to take four hours of continued education in medical record-keeping. They also must reimburse the Department of Safety and Professional Services, the state agency that oversees the medical board, for the hundreds of dollars in costs of the board’s proceedings against them.

The physicians’ attorney, Patricia Epstein, said the reprimands will become part of their permanent record. They deserved less severe discipline for a record-keeping violation, but she said she agreed to the stipulations because “it was clear that was what the board wanted.”

“It’s a permanent mark on these doctors’ licenses,” she said. “They’ll carry it with them for the rest of their careers.”

Thousands of people converged on the state Capitol in February and March to protest Walker’s union law. The measure requires most public workers to contribute more to their health care and pensions and strips them of almost all their collective bargaining rights. The demonstrations went on around the clock for three weeks.

Many of the demonstrators were teachers, and two-thirds of Madison teachers lost pay for missing at least one of four days in February to join the protests. Eighty-four of them were found to have submitted sick notes that appeared to come from doctors at the demonstrations on Feb. 19.

The Wisconsin Medical Society has criticized the doctors, saying issuing the notes threatened public trust in the medical profession.

One of the seven doctors disciplined Wednesday, Adam Balin, works for Dean Clinic. The other six — Louis Sanner, Kathleen Oriel, James Shropshire, Hannah Keevil, Bernard Micke and Mark Beamsley — are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin’s medical arm.

The six were part of a group of 22 UW physicians whom the university’s medical school investigated earlier this year for allegedly handing out sick notes to demonstrators. The school determined that some of that group didn’t hand out any notes. Others were disciplined with punishments ranging from written reprimands to the loss of pay and leadership positions. One of the physicians is appealing his discipline and has a hearing set for Nov. 29, Lisa Brunette, a medical school spokeswoman, wrote in an email Wednesday.

She declined to say how many doctors were disciplined and how many were not and declined to offer any further comment, citing the pending appeal. The Wisconsin State Journal newspaper has identified the doctor appealing his discipline as Sanner. He didn’t immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The board, which deliberated on the doctors’ discipline in closed session, also issued warnings Wednesday to two other UW doctors, Patrick McKenna and Ronni Hayon, for writing sick notes for protesters. DSPS executive assistant John Murray would say only that the evidence showed a “lesser degree of culpability” for McKenna and Hayon. Their attorney, Marie Stanton, declined to comment.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • king

    I,m glad to see there are some people are willing to take time off from work to get this natzi like leader out of office, good work.

    • Fred

      I would never go to a lying doctor. Think about it for a minute?
      Also to call anyone a Nazi is beyond sickening and totally erases your cause!!

      • unbeliever

        what happened to the teachers that lied?

    • Blah Blah

      Oh so ignorant. The nazi’s were socialist, just like your boy Obama and the rest of the “progressives”

      • Enough with the Nazi nonsense

        Do you and King understand why you are using “Nazi” as a pejorative? “Nazi = evil” is one of the very few principles embraced by those on both sides of our political divide. Thus calling someone a Nazi makes for a very effective smear: no one who is not a monster himself will dispute that being a Nazi is not just a bad thing, but among the worst possible things.

        But “being a Nazi” in this pejorative sense has nothing, or very little, to do with the public policies pursued by the National Socialists. It’s not because the Nazis, like Walker, went after trade unions that we equate Nazism with evil. And it’s not because the Nazi’s, like Obama, sought to centrally manage sectors of the economy that we equate Nazism with evil. We equate Nazi with evil because the Nazis set up a state machinery that systematically murdered six million Jews.

        When you call Walker and/or Obama Nazis because of public polices that share things in common with National Socialist policies, you’re doing so because you hope to smuggle in all those incredibly powerful, incredibly negative connotations we associate with “being a Nazi” in a “Final Solution” sense. If you know that you’re doing that, you’re being intellectually dishonest. As likely you’re not intelligent enough to appreciate what you’re doing. Now that I’ve pointed it out to you, you’ll kindly stop.

        Or not. And probably not. Your playing of the Nazi card suggests that you are unwilling or as likely unable to provide the sort of reasoned, evidence-driven critic of public policy that might actually elevate the political discourse in this country. That kind of objective detachment requires critical thinking skills, and critical thinking skills are quick to erode when you rely on the distorting lens of a political ideology to dissolve away all complexity and nuance. You two speak the language of smears, in part, because yours are perspectives that are smeared.

        One thing is certain: this country would be a better place if we could shoo out of the public square you two and those you flock with, that gaggle of honking, hissing imbeciles who befoul our public discourse with your witless polemics.

  • Citizen

    Walker doesn’t even have a college degree, but his administration is persecuting licensed physicians who are badly needed and in short supply. It is a shot across the bow of all professionals by a fascist governor and legislature who will stop at very little to drum up complaints and sanctions against those who would oppose them. History shows that “they” come for the educators and intelliectuals first! Hope the recall is successful. This man needs to go away.

    • Enough of your liberal B

      So do the doctors who provided phony notes to the liberal protestors. They should not be able to practice medicine

    • reality check

      “educators and intelliectuals first” fyi- you people are the only ones who think you are so important, nobody esle cares what you think or who you think you are in this society.

    • Betty


      Please read the article. It was the Medical Examining Board that are investigating these doctors who falsly provided sick notes to protestors who wanted to protest but get paid by their Govt employer at the same time. At least there are some stand up professionals that took time off for their personal protest.

      • tan pup

        Betty: who do you think is influencing – I mean threatening – this board? get a clue – You are just the type this governement likes; people lacking of any capacity of formaing a logical thought and can be influenced by bullying and can be scared by their own shadow.

        • Betty

          OOHH a conspiracy theory, I see. I suppose you think the moon landing was a hoax as well.
          Isnt it time for you to get back down to the big protest?

          • Everyone is up to something.!

            Still think it was the second gun man in the grassy knoll.

    • unbeliever

      Citizen: What’s wrong about prosecuting people who defraud the government? You think doctors are in such short supply that they can lie and do want they want and break laws at will. How about the teachers who took time off with pay based on their lies? Are they allowed to break laws because they are teachers providing examples to our children. They too should be prosecuted.

  • Kevin McFly

    Oh that’s right, the rules only apply when they are in my favor. What a bunch of friggen babies.This country needs more Walkers. Too many special interest groups taking advantage of the tax payer and the poor. Ever think how much additional social service could be offered to the poor and needy if teachers had to pay 15% of their own health insurance costs. BTW, I pay all of my health insurance premium, took pay cuts of about 30% and was required to take unpaid leave over the past 3 years. The owners of the corporation I work for kept everyone employed. Now that is responsibility!

  • G Dog

    Just another political move by Der Fuhrer Herr Walker. Next move- concentration camps.

    • Citizen

      The brainwashing has started: witness Kevin’s response.

    • Blah Blah

      G Dog, actually kinda funny, that you call youself that. I actually think that my dog (a real dog) has more intelligence than you. The nazi’s were imposing their socalist views on the rest of the world, kinda like you whining liberals, no wait, EXACTLY like you whining liberals.

  • Mark Too

    I’m not going to advocate that Walker is/was right, nor am I going to advocate that the unions were/are right either. I am going to comment that if I were to falsely cover for a coworker (or anyone for that matter) where I work, for whatever reason, I’d get reprimanded (perhaps fired). I see no reason why these doctors should not be held accountable for writing false sick notes. You do something that is wrong, then you should “face the music” when you are caught. It really is as simple as that.

    I have no problem with people protesting against something they don’t believe in. But if they break rules in the process, then they need to accept the punishment.
    (Yes, I do believe if a doctor would right sick notes for people to attend an anti-union rally that they too should be held to the same accountability as these doctors are today.)

    The system got it right this time.

    • Citizen

      Did you read the article, Mark? It said the doctors were reprimanded for their inadequate record keeping–no statement made about falsifying sick notes. Be careful who you slander with your posts–not that that stops you righties. Also, you need to realize that a lay person covering for another co-worker is a vastly different situation than a doctor’s professional opinion. Try not confuse your status as a peon with a licensed professional’s.

      • Betty

        Yes, and AL Capone went to jail for Mail Fraud

        • Citizen

          Totally irrelevant comment, Betty. Your point?

          • Betty

            Well, I guess I have to spell it out for you Citizen. The fact that they were found guilty of falsifying records does not mean they are not guilty of giving sick notes to protestors. What they did was wrong and irresponsible and now they will have it in their permanent records. Although that wont be too severe as a portion of them are on the public dool working for UW Madison. I wonder if they were politically motivated? Ummmm? Are you really this blinded?

            • Citizen

              “Dool?” What is that? We’re all politically motivated….you sure are.

              • Betty

                Yes, we are all politically motivated, but I do not expect my employer to pay me sick time when I am really looking to take a day off to protest. Now do you get it??

                • Mark Too

                  You are right on Betty. It amazes me how many people abuse sick leave and use it as vacation time. I know a lot of people will upset at me for this, but just because someone else does something wrong (take sick leave for vacation time) that is no excuse for someone else to do it too. Bottom line, using sick leave for vacation time is stealing from ones employer.

                • Citizen

                  Nope, Betty, I do not get it? Sorry to be so obtuse. Could you explain it all again because most people call in sick to take a day off–plenty of polls to show that!

                • Reality sucks

                  If you can’t see the writing on the wall…let me spell it out. WITCH HUNT. Just like your Al Capone citation. Gov’t couldn’t break the gang, couldn’t get to the big guy but they got him on the tiniest thing to bring him in. Come on Betty. If you can’t see this small act of bully style retribution of the (R)’s against the people, then—well… time to pull the head of the proverbial sand.

      • Mark Too

        Anyone can who is looking at this objectively can see that what really happened. The doctors were doing something wrong. (Whether it was writing false notes, or not keeping adequate records to justify the notes they were writing. Either way, it was wrong.) If you want to split hairs to justify your political agenda, knock yourself out.

        Bottom line, the doctors did something they should not have done AND now they have to pay the price for breaking the rules.

        Once again the system got it right.

        • Betty

          Dont bother Citizen with facts and objective thinking, he is a flaming Democrat thru and thru.

      • dan

        Oh Blind Citizen,

        Both Dr Ronni Hayon and Patrick McKenne were issued warnings for writing sick notes for protestors. Please take your own advice and read the article.

        • Citizen

          For Dan, Betty, & Mark Too. The official sanction reason is all that matters–the rest is smoke and mirrors. Thanks for the compliment, Betty.

          • dan


            They were reprimanded, not officially sanctioned. Keep your blinders on, I am sure you will enjoy your oats for lunch

            • Citizen

              for dan. Definition of “sanction.” The term sanction can describe disagreement and condemnation. That’s the short simple version for you…. Do I also need to define “official?”

            • Reality sucks

              Are you a Dr.?

          • Mark Too

            All THAT MATTERS – is that a bunch of doctors did something that is wrong. And now they are being punished for it.

            It matters not what ones ideology is . . . if someone does something wrong, they should be held accountable. As I stated in my first most I’m not advocating for or against Walker or the Unions. I’m stating that justice should be blind to political ideology. If the doctors were aiding pro-union or pro-Walker demonstrators should not even come into consideration. What “MATTERS” is they did something wrong and they were caught.

            The system worked.

            • Citizen

              @Mark too. You are naive in the extreme. History and rules and laws are written by the strongest and the victorious–the ones in charge. So what the doctors did wrong is just someone’s opinion right now. 50 years ago, no one would have cared. It barely mattered then, it barely matters now. If the worst thing a doctor does is not keep adequate records, I’m a happy camper. I don’t hire my doctor for his paperwork skills.

              • Mark Too

                My main point in all of my above posts has been simple. It does not matter if the guilty agree or disagree with ones political point of view … you do something wrong, you pay the price. If this basic tenet is something we cannot agree on, then there is no point continuing this discussion.

                I stand firm . . . The system got it right this time.

            • Reality sucks

              A doctor doing something wrong? I’d rather s/he “write a note” than fraud-bill medicaid or saw off the wrong arm. If this was using their license as a form of activism–they are paying for it with their permanent record. But, there are much worse worse worse things for them to have on their record.

      • Lucy

        How could the doctors keep adequate records of the office visits and examinations when they did not occur? They were AT the protests, as were the teachers who were stealing YOUR money by claiming to be sick. If they were too sick to work, why were they at the protests? You’re just up on a high horse because you didn’t get what you wanted. The teachers did not go to work so that they could protest. Rather than skip days of pay, they got supportive doctors to write excuses. They were paid with YOUR money for being at the protests. There was no exam. You know that. Why pretend otherwise?

  • G Dog

    Conservatives love to stick it to people, but instantly turn into “victims” when their motives or methods are challenged.

    Must be nice having it both ways – When I’m right, you’re wrong and when I’m wrong I’m still right.- the Conservative mantra

  • MIchael

    The biggest issue is that so much of these doctor excuses were false, not that records were not kept. Where was an investigation for that? These people have resorted to lying in order to carry out their politics. Lying, union greed, anarchy…. And now a thousand protestors have gone en masse to stake out Gov. Walker’s private residence terrorizing the neighbors. Their is a foul stench that is coming from this whole faction. Wake up, Wisconsin.

  • stubby

    Unless you live in Wisconsin….shut-up…..nobody cares what you have to say. If you do your research before spouting off, you whould know that not one teacher has been laid off, not one cop or firefighter for that matter, has been laid off. Walker has done what every other governor wishes thay had the guts to do…get control of the public unions.

    • rottdogge

      Do I have to shut up if I totally agree with you and live in MN?

  • Callina

    Please, please, PLEASE people!

    Go ahead and protest! It’s legal and often necessary!

    HOWEVER… PLEASE do not lie to your employers, damage property, break laws, or hurt anyone in the process! You’ll gain a LOT more respect for your cause of you are careful about these things.

    BTW, the name-calling in these threads is also appalling. Have we forgotten how to be polite? Can we have a sane discussion without the constant labeling of people we don’t even know? Can we really completely judge someone after reading 25-50 anonymous words?

    • Mark Too

      Good post Callina – As I’ve said in my above posts . . . I have no problem with protesting. As long as those who protest follow the rules. When they break the rules they should be held accountable. That’s what is happening to these doctors.

  • G Dog

    I wonder what would have happened if Adams, Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and others had “followed the rules” as you advocate.

    Afternoon tea anyone?

    • Citizen

      @G Dog. All these conservative posters will spout their ideology until that ideology is turned against them. It’s always “fun” to be part of a bully group until the group turns on you!

      • Reality sucks

        Hello Citizen. After reading this junk…I see that the (R)’s are now digesting themselves. Something to watch, kind of like Ebola.

        • Citizen

          Hi, Reality. Great comment! I hesitate to make election predictions, but if you give any of the Republicans out there enough rope or enough open mikes, they tend to cram both feet, hands, and other appendages into their mouths–or elsewhere–witness the latest comments by Cain. If you let these people yap enough they eventually pike themselves! If our country were not in such economic trouble, it might be funny to watch the incompetent digest themselves.

          • Carla


            You may want to hold off on your Election predictions, you are still eating crow from the last time around.

            • Citizen

              What predictions would those be? That Ohio got rid of the anti-union law? I don’t make predictions, Carla. You must have me confused with you CONservatives.

          • Reality sucks

            I’ll make that prediction for ya. I’m voting blue across the board. The (R)’s got nothing for me. As an independent—that’s the barometer. And I don’t like most of the (D)’s either —–but they are far less dangerous.

            • Citizen

              Exactly, Reality! Sad to have to vote for people who are the least dangerous, least predatory, least incompetent.

  • Justin Beiberrrr

    The real story here is that the rich and their puppets (like Walker) don’t want you to have a chance to complain as they’re urinating down your back!

  • Kevin

    Walker rocks! Unions suck! Govt workers get twice the pay and bennifits that we get….and tax payers pay for it! Govt workers work for me…not some left wing POS union…if you think Govt unions work……study Europe……

    • G Dog

      I can spell benefit. If You think totally free enterprise works, wstudy the Great Depression.

  • Michael

    “Go ahead and protest”…. Wait a minute! Let’s examine that idea. What needs to come out of all of these often anarchistic and violent protests is the fact that there is no such thing as an absolute right. I can not exercise “freedom of speech” by yelling fire in a movie theater. Government needs to articulate the parameters that exist around these endless public protests and enforce such. The politics of lawlessness is taking over the country perpetrated by this political faction. It is time to rein them in.

  • rottdogge

    See? Even doctors can be ignorant and unethical.

  • rottdogge

    Michael, in today’s politically correct world, there are a lot more things the non-sheep can’t say……as I’m sure you know, it’s a very long list. Conservatives of note cannot state their opinions in public without being mocked by the press, or censored altogether.

    • Citizen

      @rottdogge. Possibly that censorship and mocking is because conservatives like Cain, Bachmann, and Romney do nothing but distort facts, history, and their own records. Could that distortion possibly be called ly ing? Or would you prefer “fact challenged.”

  • http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/11/17/wis-docs-repremanded-over-sick-notes/ Wis. Docs Repremanded Over Sick Notes « CBS Minnesota

    […] Read more here. // // Share this No comments // […]

  • http://themorningafter.us/wis-doctors-reprimanded-over-protest-sick-notes-%c2%ab-cbs-minnesota/ Wis. Doctors Reprimanded Over Protest Sick Notes « CBS Minnesota « Down on the Pharm

    […] Wis. Doctors Reprimanded Over Protest Sick Notes « CBS Minnesota. […]

  • Huh?

    A teacher and a doctor conspire to defraud an employee benefit system and the doctor has to take a class and the teacher get’s off scott free?

  • http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat/2011/11/healthcare-update-11-21-2011/ Healthcare Update — 11-21-2011 | WhiteCoat's Call Room

    […] Remember those Wisconsin doctors who were handing out sick notes on the streets during protests over Governor Scott Walker’s proposed changes to collective bargaining agreements for state workers? Seven of them have been sanctioned by the state medical board for sloppy record keeping. […]

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