Medical certificates from chemists

stray 14 May 2008 26

Does anyone have any more info on the idea that to ease demand on GPs, pharmacists would be allowed to issue medical certificates? Would love love love this to be a reality in Canberra having tired of the wait in our public clinics (over 3 hours on average and no guarrantee of being seen) and waiting up to 3 weeks for an appointment with the usual doc’….Half the time its not even to be diaganosed (what doc, all this snot and gunk and sore throat and body means i have the cold/flu? no way!) but to simply get that ‘golden ticket’ that allows one to rest in bed guilt free from work….

To be honest I’m not even sure where I heard this was being floated…


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26 Responses to Medical certificates from chemists
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EvanJames EvanJames 10:25 am 25 Aug 11

But pharmacists can still only give a cert for the current day, can’t they? Not for the next day, for instance.

felixyschan felixyschan 3:07 am 25 Aug 11

Gday all, Felix here the chief pharmacist at Canberra Day & Night Pharmacy aka Ginninderra Pharmacy Belconnen. Pharmacists are legally able to issue medical certificates under the meaning of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. For serious stuff like needing someone to certify you are not infectious or for insurance claims, you must still get it in writing from a GP. Most chemists will charge a small fee for the service but only a fraction of what a non-bulk billing doctor will charge.
So often I see people line up for 3-4 hours when I can offer the same advice and issue the same medical certificates, and saving Medicare (taxpayers’) dollars.

CANBERRA DAY & NIGHT PHARMACY OPEN 8am – 10pm 364 DAYS
Located inside Ginninderra Medical & Dental Centre Belconnen
33 Egan Court Belconnen ACT
Medical centre number with 15+ GPs on rotation: 6112 7111
Pharmacy number: 62515775

ant ant 11:29 pm 16 May 08

I saw that story on the ABC tonight, so it’s still not a go-er, annoying. I followed Magella’s advice and saw the best doctor in Canberra today, but it took a 3 day wait, so how does that work if you just want to stay in bed dying and need a cert? There needs to be some kind of mechanism to satisfy work requirements in the current doctor-short climate we live in.

minime2 minime2 11:04 pm 16 May 08

Friday night 16th … ABC news had head of Pharmicists Guild on saying they are very wary about it but are giving their members training before introducing such a scheme. It got a little sidelined by “why did not the Budget UP the Medicare rebate in line with the increase in GP consult fees?”

But I do not see how a Pharmicist is going to have sny more time to come from behind the dispensing box to vist, chat and check before giving a cert … a fee for all that time? Then (social construction) word will get around about the slackest chemist in town and you will have to book ahead. or find one that doesn’t speak English.

captainwhorebags captainwhorebags 8:51 am 15 May 08

ant: I’m interested in your logic as to why vets are more qualified than doctors. “They see more than one type of animal” is not a logical reason. Jack of all trades often means master of none.

I’m not knocking vets at all, I think they’re wonderful. But when I’m sick I’d rather see a person who spent their entire 5 year degree (plus internship, residency etc) studying on one animal than someone who divided their time between a handful.

Special G – architects have a longer degree (about 6 years) than doctors or pharmacists. Maybe you should see them for a doctors certificate.

Special G Special G 8:24 am 15 May 08

I am pretty sure Pharmacists spend more time studying to get their degree than MD’s. If you are so sick you can’t get out of bed for the day then you will probably need more time off than just one day. I think this is a great idea, just last week I tried to book into my Doc to get a certificate although they were booked out with 2 of the 5 Doctors at the practice off sick themselves.

Thanks for the link Jennybel75. 2 days max makes sense.

ant ant 10:43 pm 14 May 08

Can’t see why a vet couldn’t give out certs! If anything, they’re more qualified than many human doctors (and a lot more accessible).

But I do agree with the AMA’s stance that people should not have to get a cert for a day, in fact, by the tiem they’ve got up, showered, driven to a doctor and sat in the waiting room for ages, they’re most likely to have got worse and will need more time in bed. If they’d been able to stay there in the first place, they would have been better off.

needlenose needlenose 8:27 pm 14 May 08

Sorry – stuffed up the quote placement – it should have ended at “contradictions”. I promise to preview next time!

needlenose needlenose 8:26 pm 14 May 08

Ari said :

But the AMA changed its position 180 degrees in the same week in January … on the Monday they were making an argument that sick people should just be able to judge for themselves whether to stay home … and then later in the same week the AMA was arguing that meningitis would rage across the land because the very same sick people had the temerity to get a certificate from a pharmacist.

Far be it from me to defend the AMA (truly, you know hot *how* damn far), but those really are different takes on the same argument, not contradictions.

Most people do know if they’re a bit sick, or a lot sick, and if a day at home is all they need or if it’s more serious.

But if it is more serious, and they can’t get in to a GP for a certificate, how is a pharmacist able to diagnose and/or treat them?

A pharmacist might be able to confirm that you seem to have a cold, and sell you an appropriate treatment. A physio can confirm you have a broken leg and a psychologist can confirm you are depressed and both can probably treat you for those. But a psych can’t treat your broken leg and a pharmacist can’t treat your depression and a physio can’t treat your cold. That’s all.

Fiona Fiona 7:50 pm 14 May 08

“What’s needed is a better system for verifying when people are actually sick. If you have a migraine, or a cold, it’s better for you to stay home and rest til you’re better than spend time in a waiting room for a medical certificate”

exactly. that’s why i got up at 630 to get there at 7am the other day, so I could spend the rest of the day sleeping

Didn’t realise the chemist could give me one for a day…. need to look into that for those fridays when I’m sick and know I should be well by monday

Ari Ari 7:41 pm 14 May 08

But the AMA changed its position 180 degrees in the same week in January … on the Monday they were making an argument that sick people should just be able to judge for themselves whether to stay home … and then later in the same week the AMA was arguing that meningitis would rage across the land because the very same sick people had the temerity to get a certificate from a pharmacist.

So according to the AMA it’s OK for people to decide for themselves to stay home (without any great concern that they might have undiagnosed meningitis), but another health professional gets involved and the fabric of society will be torn asunder?

needlenose needlenose 7:24 pm 14 May 08

gun street girl said :

Snahons_scv6_berlina said :

Shab – of course the AMA would be upset, after all think of that those $50 notes for 10 minutes work the GP will now loose.

Oh, yawn. Of course, every time doctors object to something publicly, it must have more to do with them being greedy and lazy, and absolutely nothing to do with concerns for patient care.

Actually, the AMA objected to the legislation on the basis that

(a) requiring people to get a medical certificate for every sick day put an unreasonable burden on both doctors and patients – GPs are overworked as it is and often a patient needing to spend half a day getting a certificate is counterproductive:they’d be better off resting, staying warm etc;

(b) the way the legislation was drafted would have allowed a vet to give a medical certificate.

There was no consultation with any of the health professions as to how this would affect their workloads etc.

The AMA’s objection was not really to allied health professionals giving certificates, but they did argue that the type of practitioner ought to be relevant. Should a psychologist be able to give a certificate stating that someone has malaria? How would they know? And if someone does have malaria, shouldn’t they be seeing a health professional who’s able to treat it?

As an employer, would you be happy with an employee taking three weeks off for depression on the basis of a certificate from their pharmacist?

What’s needed is a better system for verifying when people are actually sick. If you have a migraine, or a cold, it’s better for you to stay home and rest til you’re better than spend time in a waiting room for a medical certificate.

gun street girl gun street girl 6:17 pm 14 May 08

Snahons_scv6_berlina said :

Shab – of course the AMA would be upset, after all think of that those $50 notes for 10 minutes work the GP will now loose.

Oh, yawn. Of course, every time doctors object to something publicly, it must have more to do with them being greedy and lazy, and absolutely nothing to do with concerns for patient care.

Ari Ari 4:46 pm 14 May 08

Skidbladnir said :

Is this the same legislation that would allow us to get medical cerificates from veterinarians as well as nurses, as it used “medical professional” rather than “medical practitioner”?

The legislative change actually happened as part of WorkChoices in 2006. The wording was changed to allow “a registered health practitioner” to issue certificates for short periods of sick leave.

The change was introduced without consultation with any of the 10 or so professions affected and it took two years for the Pharmaceutical Society to consult with other stakeholders (insurers, accreditation boards etc) to work through all the potential issues (mainly concerning indemnity and whether issuing certificates fell within pharmacists’ scope of practice).

Once these issues were sorted out the Pharmaceutical Society’s guidelines were issued in January this and this triggered the AMA ‘s chest-beating. Other professions have yet to issue their guidelines.

So legally, nurses, optometrists and others can also issue sick certificates, but without official guidelines from their professional bodies they could be leaving themselves open to potential litigation and/or deregistration if something goes wrong.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:29 pm 14 May 08

Is this the same legislation that would allow us to get medical cerificates from veterinarians as well as nurses, as it used “medical professional” rather than “medical practitioner”?

I remember hearing some old hag getting all upset by something a few months back on such a topic…
(So I am in true RiotACT form, just reporting something overheard at a cafe, not knowing if its even relevant to Canberra)

stray stray 3:43 pm 14 May 08

Thanks guys, thats terrific news and great responses!
and lol @ 4# – ….

Meconium Meconium 2:49 pm 14 May 08

Legislation went through a couple of months ago. I don’t know why any pharmacy would choose not to offer this service – all pharmacies that are open will have one or more pharmacists working there at any one time. (You never have a pharmacy without a pharmacist on duty – otherwise they would not be allowed to sell behind-the-counter and prescription only medicines (aka schedule 3 and 4 medicines)).

They will all probably have a template certificate ready to fill in with your name, and print it out. They may decline to provide this service to you if they think you’re not sick enough though!

Legally they’re allowed to give a medical certificate for one day only. This may be in conjunction with a referral to a GP (either for the same day or some time soon), or immediate referral to a hospital in serious situations.

You can’t ever get a medical certificate from a pharmacist for absences of more than one day – anything longer than one day requires a GP’s diagnosis.

Hope this helps.

Ari Ari 2:10 pm 14 May 08

It is important to note that it is optional for pharmacists to offer the service.

Some will and some won’t (for a range of different reasons). Just ask your local one if they are doing it.

jennybel75 jennybel75 11:01 am 14 May 08

It was an initiative brought in by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) after legislative changes in 2006. More info can be found on the PSA website (below)

http://www.psa.org.au/site.php?id=2237

ant ant 10:20 am 14 May 08

Good to hear it got up. It’s almost impossible to see a doctor and get the cert and get a decent rest in bed. Pharmacists are excellent to consult for standard health issues anyway, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Go home with your cert, and some medications to help deal with the illness. I had a pharmacist fix my sprained thumb some years back. He did a good job and I can’t even remember which thumb it was.

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