The dreaded words: "Your child will need a doctor's note to return." One sentence can mean so much time, stress, and effort! For many families, it means taking time off work and picking up your child from school, then heading to the doctor's office - if you can get an appointment. Add to that a child who hates going to the doctor and being examined; the whole ordeal can be frustrating!
But doctor's notes are necessary for the safety of you, your child, and others around you. Read on for why and when they're needed and how to get them stress-free with online doctor services like Blueberry Pediatrics.
What is a doctor's note?
A doctor's note, or medical excuse note, helps clarify children's health needs outside the home.
Why are doctor's notes needed?
Pediatricians write notes for many reasons. They are typically needed when a child takes time off from activities outside the home, such as school or sports. They are also needed for specialized activities, events, or travel away from home.
Whether needed for educational institutions, sports teams, or other institutions, doctor's notes provide proof of a child's health and safety status and helpful guidance on necessary adjustments to policies or procedures to accommodate a child’s specific needs.
When is a sick note required?
One reason for a sick note is if a child has a confirmed diagnosis of a communicable disease such as measles, mumps, whooping cough, respiratory or streptococcal infections, scarlet fever, impetigo, conjunctivitis (pinkeye), ringworm, scabies, and infectious mononucleosis.
Other common reasons for doctor's notes:
- A child is absent a few days consecutively or for an extended period of time
- There are questions about a child's safety in certain activities or environments
- A child has a health condition that requires extended medical leave
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What should be included in a doctor's note?
The typical elements of a doctor's note are: the doctor's contact information, the date the note was written, what missed days are excused and when the child can return (if appropriate), and recommended modifications to activities if necessary. If applicable, the note will also or other special instructions - such as restrictions on physical activity - the child must follow while away from home.
Can I create my own doctor's note?
A doctor's note is a legal document; therefore, it is always recommended that you get an official doctor's note for you or your child when one is needed.
In children who are school-aged or in a daycare setting, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis for any illness that is more than your run-of-the-mill cold so that we can best determine how to support them, as well as when it is safe for them to be around other children to minimize spread.
What are the types of doctor's notes?
There are many reasons why doctor's notes are needed, and the type of note you or your child may need depends on the situation. We've noted the common types of notes for work or school below.
Back to School Doctor's Note
These are usually used during or after an illness in the previously mentioned situations. Although teachers and school administrators know about kids better than most, they are not medical professionals. They take their jobs very seriously to protect everyone to the best of their ability, and that means soliciting help from other sources to make the best decisions for the greater good of the school and the kids in it.
It may be frustrating if you are the family needing to get the doctor's note, but if the situation was flipped, it gives peace of mind to know that a contagious child will not be allowed in contact with your child until they possess less of a risk.
Routine School Forms
Usually, entering a new school year, you need to submit paperwork about the health and immunizations of your child. All schools want to ensure up-to-date immunizations to limit preventable diseases from infecting the kids.
They will also likely require basic information, such as significant medical events in the past, chronic illnesses that they should be aware of when your child is in their care, allergies, and medications your child may be taking.
Make sure you ask for this paperwork from your doctor a few weeks before it is due to the school in case there are delays.
Return to Play
Another type of doctor's note is for "return to play." If your child hurts themselves during a sports game, the school or sports team may want medical clearance before your child jumps back to play.
Conditions requiring a note include concussions, sprains, strains, and broken bones. For some conditions, this may seem overkill, especially if your child is acting fine and feels no pain. But there is good reason to require these notes because repeat injury to the head could be a serious issue in the long run.
If a child is diagnosed with mononucleosis (also known as "mono"), they may also require a note to go back because there is a risk of liver or spleen damage if there is trauma to these organs when a child is infected with mono.
There are also new parameters being created for a return to play notes in the aftermath of Covid-19 because some children are showing cardiac disease weeks after having the virus, which may put them at risk for a complication when doing vigorous exercise.
A return to play doctor's note usually requires a physical exam in the doctor's office to ensure there are no physical findings that would give reason to hold off on sports.
Usage of Medication in School
If your child needs to use medication while in school, the doctor will have to write a note or use a doctor's note template provided by the school about the medication.
Included in the doctor's note is the name and type of medication, how to use it, when it should be used, and how often it needs to be used. This helps the school to ensure it is being administered properly.
No Play Note
If your child has a condition, such as mononucleosis or a physical injury, that makes participation in a particular activity dangerous, you can get a doctor's note allowing them to be exempt from the activity. Your doctor can also write a note with certain parameters for what your child can and cannot do so they can still participate in some activities.
Note for Special Services
If your child qualifies for services, such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical therapy, you can get a doctor's note. Usually, this process is much more involved, requiring an evaluation for the services and a school district's approval, but the doctor can help you to get the process started and move it along.
Notes for Parents
Did you know that your child's pediatrician can also write you a doctor's note for work? Sometimes, your human resources department may require proof that your child needs you to miss work to be home with them, and their pediatrician can help validate your absence.
Writing a doctor's note to help you is quite simple for the pediatrician, and most are happy to do whatever they can to help you take the best care of your children; make sure you make your needs known to the doctor.
Family and Medical Leave Act Protection and Doctor's Notes
In some cases, your child's medical condition may require employees to take extended absences from work. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides job-protected leave for employees to care for themselves or family members with serious health conditions. It also protects individuals from being fired, suspended, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against when they take medical leave. Visit the Department of Labor website to learn more about this important legislation.
Can I get a doctor's note online?
If you need a doctor's note, we're here to help make your life easier!
When a doctor from Blueberry Pediatrics makes a diagnosis through our telehealth platform, we can provide a doctor's note on our letterhead with the doctor's signature. Your child's health information is private, so we only include what is required for acceptance of the note, such as necessary medications, a return to school or play date, and any special accommodations that are needed. Best of all, you don't have to leave your home to consult with our doctors, use health insurance or pay out of pocket for a doctor's note.
Blueberry offers text, phone, or video care from board-certified pediatricians 24/7. An entire year of Blueberry membership costs less than the typical copay of a single urgent care visit, and one membership covers all children in your household! It's like having a doctor's office in your house. Sign up here.
Note: Blueberry pediatricians can only provide notes for illnesses and infections they diagnose through a video visit in the Blueberry app. You’ll need to consult your primary care physician for school physicals and school physical forms, notes for chronic medications, or Family Medical Act Leave forms.