Wisconsin Docs Who Signed Fake Notes Under Investigation

The Wisconsin doctors who signed fraudulent sick notes to cover striking state employees may be in trouble.

AP ("Wisconsin Licensing Dept. Looking Into Doctors' Notes"):

Wisconsin officials are investigating complaints about doctors who handed out medical excuses for pro-labor protesters at the Capitol.

Dave Ross, of the state Department of Regulation and Licensing, said the agency is looking into accusations that a number of local doctors provided the notes for protesters who missed work during the week. Ross said the department will review complaints with the independent Medical Examining Board as soon as possible. Tuesday's statement came a day after University of Wisconsin Health, which employed some of the physicians involved, said it was also looking into the matter.

Physician Lou Sanner was one of the doctors who provided notes. He told The Associated Press on Saturday that doctors wrote the notes for what they saw as legitimate health issues arising from stress.

I can't imagine the "stress" argument is going to fly, given that it's transparently bogus. The bottom line is that these doctors violated the trust that's been bestowed on them and should suffer the consequences.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    "The bottom line is that these doctors violated the trust that's been bestowed on them and should suffer the consequences."
    You must be thrilled Jim. Let's take away their licenses to practice and reduce the supply of doctors in WI as they go to other states to find to satisfy the plentiful demand for medical practitioners. Republican solutions…always so real world. 

  2. Herb says:

    This cracks me up.  Call in sick.  Your boss doesn't believe you so they require a doctor's note.  You bring in a doctor's note.  Your boss doesn't believe the doctor.  Where does it end??
    Seriously….if employers are requiring their employees to provide doctor's notes if they call in sick and the employee does, it should end there. 

  3. anjin-san says:

    We should certainly crush anyone who dares to question the authority of the government. Well, as lot as it is politically expedient for the GOP.

  4. anjin-san says:

    > The bottom line is that these doctors violated the trust that's been bestowed on them
    Sort of like the most popular conservative in America did to the people of Alaska. 

  5. TG Chicago says:

    Have to agree with Joyner here. Doctors shouldn’t be issuing fraudulent medical documentation. I don’t understand any of the justifications posted in this thread. The bosses didn’t believe the doctors for a good reason — the doctors were lying! And I seriously doubt this will end with large numbers of doctors having their medical licenses revoked. I would think suspensions or warnings would be appropriate. Ignoring it is not appropriate.

  6. James Joyner says:


    Seriously….if employers are requiring their employees to provide doctor's notes if they call in sick and the employee does, it should end there.

    Here's the problem: The employer here has more than good cause to believe the sick calls and the notes are fraudulent. There's an illegal strike underway in the form of a "sick-out." Some of the "sick" people are carrying signs and hooting and hollering at the state capitol rather than doing the jobs they're being paid to do.
    And you think the bosses should simply ignore the evidence and take the lying workers' word for it?

  7. Nikki says:

    Sorry, but the doctors are covered. Who is going to determine whether the patients are or are not stressed? These protestors are in danger of losing their living wages and fighting for their rights. Stress pretty much covers it.

  8. James Joyner says:

    If they're too "stressed" to go to work, they're too stressed to hoot and holler in Madison. And their wages aren't being threatened. 

  9. Have A Nice G.A. says:

    These protestors are in danger of losing their living wages and fighting for their rights.  sigh

  10. Herb says:

    "And you think the bosses should simply ignore the evidence and take the lying workers' word for it?"
    No, but if the employers set-up a policy I do expect them to abide by it.  If all that's required to justify a sick day is a doctor's note and the worker provides one….then bam, compliance.  Doesn't matter what they're doing on their "sick day."  They're complying with the policy.
    What we need here isn't an investigation of "fraudelent" sick notes, but a policy that doesn't encourage them.  Say……unpaid sick time.  Say….no doctor's note exception.

  11. wr says:

    No suprise they're going after the doctors, after the governor and lieutenant governor let it slip today that one reason they want to destroy collective bargaining rights is so that they can wipe out the teacher's union's health care plan and force all the teachers onto the state plan.
    All of you screaming about "state controlled medicine" want to jump in on this?
    Nah, didn't think so.

  12. James Joyner says:


    I don't know much about Wisconsin's plans. But why, if there's a "state plan," shouldn't state workers be on it?

  13. Tlaloc says:

    The bottom line is that these doctors violated the trust that's been bestowed on them and should suffer the consequences.

    I agree completely, but isn't it funny how the right, usually oh so anti-regulation, is very keen to have the regulators descend upon these doctors?  Shouldn;t they be arguing that such regulation represents a market distoting unconstitutional effort by government? 
    I mean if they had any intellectual consistency.  So I guess my question answers itself.

  14. James Joyner says:

    I don't know who on the right argues that physicians shouldn't be monitored for professional conduct.

  15. wr says:

    JJ – If the teachers union has a better plan than what the state makes available, why should they  be forced to abandon it? I thought we were supposed to hate government control of our healthcare.

  16. James Joyner says:

    WR: They're state employees. It's not unreasonable for the state to want to save costs by putting its employees into a cheaper plan. Private companies do it all the time. In this case, it just happens that the state already owns its own cheaper alternative.

  17. wr says:

    By all conservative and libertarian principles, shouldn't the teachers be offered a choice? Pay more for your plan or less for the cheaper state plan? Isn't this something that can be negotiated?

  18. James Joyner says:


    I think giving them such an alternative likely good policy. I'm not sure what principles are at stake, though. They're state agents, not private citizens. 

  19. PD Shaw says:

    I believe part of the issue is if a Wisconsin employee doesn’t enroll in the state healthcare plan, then they get credits towards retirement benefits out of the state retirement system.

  20. PD Shaw says:

    I might be wrong about that; the Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit Program appears to be an additional means of getting credit for early retirment for not taking sick leave.

  21. Brummagem Joe says:

    Guys…grow up…I’m not justifying it, just saying this goes into the stuff happens drawer. If this turns into a campaign of passive resistance by govt workers you’re going to see a lot more of it. You can moralize til the cows come home because it isn’t going to make a cents worth of difference. We’ve seen lots of morally deplorable stuff over the last ten years. And proposing self defeating disciplinary action just takes you into the theater of the absurd like proposing we smash the banks up to punish the bankers Jim must think these people are subject to the MCJ or something.

  22. Tlaloc says:

    “I don’t know who on the right argues that physicians shouldn’t be monitored for professional conduct.”

    Really? Seems like the general (knee jerk) reaction is “regulation bad.” Granted it’s in the libertarian circles that you find the greatest extremes of this but what philosophical difference is there between regulating physicians and regulating, say, a car dealership?

  23. TG Chicago says:

    Herb @11:40, I think you’re misreading the post.

    The employers who have gotten involved here are not the employers of the protesters, but the employers of the physicians who wrote the allegedly fraudulent documentation.

    Don’t you think the physicians’ employers have a right to ensure that their employees are abiding by the law in the course of fulfilling their job duties? And if they are not abiding by the law, isn’t it their obligation to notify authorities?

    Joe @ 16:10, I might not raise a huge fuss if this did get thrown in the “stuff happens” drawer, but I think it’s reasonable for the physicians’ employers and the licensing agency to choose differently. This story did cause a bit of a public outcry. I can see why they would want to wash their hands of it.

  24. Nomi says:

    I’m amazed at how many people are taking this at face value. Let’s look more closely:

    1) The ONLY time any problem has cropped up with the protests happens to be the ONLY day the Tea Party organizes their own protest. Has it escaped anyone that these doctors were planted by Walker supporters to make protesters look bad?

    2) Only one doctor of the several who were there has been verified as a real doctor; from my investigation, he is not under any legal fire a this poing. ALL the other “doctors” – and particularly the ones who were very blatant about what they were doing – can’t be found or verified. Were they real doctors?

    3) I haven’t been able to find one report of one note that was issued being turned in. So, written or not, legitimate doctors or not, if none are turned in what’s the problem?