You might need a doctor’s note for many reasons, such as injuries, illness, appointments, and surgeries. Most schools and employers require a note if you are taking time off that isn’t scheduled to handle a medical issue. Having a valid reason to miss work is essential if you want to keep your job. Fortunately, getting a doctor’s note is as easy as asking. If you have to go to a medical appointment or emergency care facility, you can ask for a doctor’s note stating that you were there for a valid medical concern. Your note may indicate that you should take time off or limit your duties to avoid unnecessarily prolonging the problem.
For example, a doctor who diagnoses you with Covid should order you to stay home for 5-14 days. Alternatively, if you break a leg, your doctor may send a note saying you can’t run or lift things and should elevate your leg. No worries if you’ve never written or asked for a doctor’s note. We will walk you through everything you need to know to create an outstanding, customized, professional doctor’s note.
What is a Doctors’ Note?
When you are sick, injured, or in the hospital, you may not always be automatically excused from work. An employer cannot refuse you the opportunity to seek medical treatment, so to avoid confusion, medical providers can write you a doctor’s note. These notes tell employers that you were at a hospital, private practice, ER, or another medical center, typically for an emergency. Some employers may require doctor’s notes for any medical absence, and others only ask for a note if you were out of work unexpectedly.
You will have to see a doctor if you are injured on the job. This is for your health but also covers your employer because they have insurance that covers their liability if you are due compensation. Having a doctor’s note that shows you were hurt or sick enough to need a medical appointment shows that you are being honest about your medical needs (not playing hooky from work by faking an illness). The letter exempts you from working while you are being treated, explains if you are ordered to stay home, or should be excused from certain types of work like heavy lifting or operating large machinery while you heal.
A doctor’s note can be legally binding. If you are uncertain how much patient information should go on the form, consult a legal professional or use a premade template. Download one of our free reusable Doctor’s Note templates, fill in your information in Word, Google Docs, or PDF, or read on to learn more about composing your own.
What is a Doctors’ Note Template?
A doctor’s note template is a blank, fillable form containing sections for all the relevant information that a doctor’s excuse note needs to provide. Doctors or other medical professionals sign these forms to verify that someone came in for treatment or has a medical condition that limits mobility or other capabilities. You can request your health care provider after a diagnosis and treatment plan that indicates missing work or school, or if you are currently missing work or school to visit their office.
Doctors Note Templates
Download our free printable doctors note templates, each template is editable in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and PDF.
Doctors’ Note for Missing Work or School
This is a formal notification from a doctor to an employer, school, or other institution. It should state who the medical professional is, who the patient is, and only those specific conditions that are relevant, with no additional voluntary information that might breach patient confidentiality. If they are absent, then the reason they were at a medical facility is necessary. Otherwise, if they are on bed rest, under quarantine, or must have their duties limited to avoid re-injury, the note should specify the exact treatments prescribed and relevant durations, such as ‘patient cannot lift more than 10 lbs for the next eight weeks.’
Doctors Note Format
Name of Medical Clinic Patient Information:
[Name, Address, Contact info, or patient number]
Contact Information of Medical Clinic:
[Phone], [Email], [Website]
Patient Name: ________________ Reason For Visit: ________________
Date of Absence: __/__/____
Dear [Name of school, business, or individual requiring note],
[Patient’s name] was absent from work/school on (date) __/__/____ due to/for [reason for visit]
Diagnosis: A brief description of what’s wrong goes here. A patient may come in with a sore toe and have a broken foot, which is why the ‘Reason for Visit’ section is separate.
Recommendation or Treatment Plan: This is where you input how long they’ll be out of work or other necessary steps toward wellness.
Limitations (if any): If the patient can return to work but needs accommodations or should have temporary constraints placed on what duties they can perform, then you should input that here.
Printed Name: ________________
Who Can Provide A Doctors’ Note?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not only a doctor that provides a doctor’s note. Despite its name, any healthcare provider who indicates their profession and offers a diagnosis can exempt you from work or school via a medical note. Below is a quick list of some people who can legally sign a doctor’s note.
- Medical Doctor
- Nurse Practitioner
- Midwife or Doula
- Psychologist or Psychiatrist (In some cases)
- EMT (possibly)
Can My Boss or School Refuse a Doctors’ Note
Unfortunately, in the US, your employer or school can refuse to accept a doctor’s note in many cases. They do not always have to state a reason, and it’s tough to dispute. You can even be fired when you have a medical note if it is against company policy to allow the correct number of days or if you do a job that cannot accommodate your illness or injury. The only time it is illegal for an employer to refuse a valid medical excuse is when you are taking protected, unpaid time off per the FMLA laws.
Under FMLA, you can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for medical necessities. Your employer cannot fire you or retaliate later in this case, and they cannot refuse a valid medical excuse if it’s approved under FMLA.
When to Use a Doctor’s Note
It is crucial to understand when you need a doctor’s note. You do not want to miss an exam or lose your job. You should use a doctor’s note whenever requested, required by company policy, or allowed based on the rules for your school, company, or other institution. Here are some of the reasons to use a doctor’s note.
- You are contagiously ill and need to take time off to get well
- If you had a panic attack or other mental health crisis
- You fell and broke a bone or pulled a muscle
- If you are suffering from dizziness, nausea, or other similar problems
- When you break a tooth or lose a filling and have to go to an emergency dental appointment
- You want to get paid for the time, and you have paid leave available
- If you are injured at work and may have to file for workers’ compensation
- You have symptoms of Covid and have to quarantine
- For medical exams
- For surgery or emergency surgery
- If you are in an accident and have to go to the hospital for insurance reasons
Essential Elements of a Doctor’s Note
A doctor’s note template needs space for all the standard required information. You should be able to see what the form is, who it is for, and what happened at a glance. Information like how many days the patient should miss and whether the condition will impact their performance in an ongoing manner.
- A heading such as “Medical Absence Form” or a similar indication of what to expect below
- The medical facilities name and address
- The date
- Your contact information
- (Optional) The reason for the visit
- The medical reason you will miss work: A doctor should include a clear description of the diagnosis and prescription. Please describe the ailment(s), why they impact your work, and any medical recommendations like quarantine, bed rest, medication, etc.
- Limitations- Certain tasks at the workplace may need to be avoided or reduced, such as not operating heavy machinery, not bending, twisting, or lifting anything heavy, etc.
- A doctor’s signature with the date and their printed signature
How to Obtain a Doctor’s Note
It is good practice to check beforehand if your organization accepts doctor’s notes for excused (unexpected) absences. When you go to the doctor, and miss work, providing evidence that you were legitimately ill or injured can save your job. You only need to obtain a doctor’s note to ask for one while you are there.
You can download a free doctor’s note template and fill most of it out yourself in advance to make things easier. The medical professional who examines you must input the diagnosis, signature, and recommendations for treatment sections.
Pro Tip: If your boss or school asks for a letter of absence rather than a doctor’s note, you need a different form. Fortunately, you can download one of our free, professionally created templates for that.
When You Can Write Your Own Excuse Letter
Sometimes, a company/institution can excuse you from work without a doctor’s note. If your employer or another institution requires a note that isn’t from the doctor, all you need to do is write an excuse letter explaining why you are absent. You must provide a genuine, honest reason that shows a need to be away unexpectedly.
When you need to attend to an important personal matter, such as a sick family member or other unavoidable (temporary) issue
When you are a legal adult, and you need a note explaining why you missed classes
Anytime you need a note that doesn’t need to be written by a licensed professional, it is generally acceptable to write the note for yourself.
Note: You can write a doctor’s note, but a medical professional has to fill it in and sign it.
Is it Illegal to Fake a Doctors’ Note?
It is illegal to fake a doctor’s note. Representing yourself (or whoever signs the letter) as a medical professional falls under medical fraud or other similar laws, and it comes with significant consequences. Not only can you get fired for a fake doctor’s note, but you could also end up paying serious fines or being charged with a felony in some areas.
Each state handles this charge differently. For example, here is the law from Tennessee:
39-16-302. Impersonation of licensed professional.
(a) It is unlawful for any person who is not licensed to do so to practice or pretend to be licensed to practice a profession for which a license certifying the qualifications of the licensee to practice the profession is required.
(b) A violation of this section is a Class E felony.
Not only is a fake note illegal, but it’s a justifiable reason for termination. An employee who cannot produce a doctor’s note to excuse the absence is, by definition, not excused for the day. Some employers are lenient, but a fake can and should get you fired.
Since doctors’ notes are something most people don’t know very much about, we’ve also answered the top seven questions asked by people who also wanted to know about doctors’ note templates. Below you will find a plethora of information to help clarify more about the doctor’s note in general and how it can or should be used.
Doctors’ notes are essential because employers or schools often require them to validate a person’s claim that they are ill, injured, or their health is otherwise impacted in a manner that affects their work. If you become sick or get hurt, you may need this form to keep your job or reschedule a vital class. Additionally, requiring a note helps reduce instances of falsification and playing hooky for fun or other non-medical reasons.
As an employer, you can verify doctors’ notes. You cannot ask for any medical information about the patient. Still, you can call the medical establishment, speak to the doctor or their secretary and verify a note was issued.
The easiest way to tell if a doctor’s note is real is to call and verify it. However, since doctors cannot release patient information without express written consent, you may only ask if a note was written for the person in question on the date indicated. There is no secret universal symbol, watermark, stamp, or other indicators. The letter is real if signed by a medical professional (with a current license in the relevant field) who both examined and diagnosed the patient. When in doubt, check the clinic’s name and look up their information online to be sure the address and phone number are correct, or google the doctor (or other medical professionals) in question and see where they work since most people publish that information on Facebook or LinkedIn.
This question has an odd answer. You cannot be directly disciplined by a warning, loss of privileges, or other retaliation. However, if company policy dictates it and you live in an at-will state with a job that has no contract, then you can be fired for excessive absences.
A doctor’s note does not need to be stamped. In fact, a stamped signature can invalidate it in some cases. The signature must be in black or blue ink, and the form must explain the need, or statement of medical necessity, along with all of the doctors’ recommendations. If someone at your job or school needs to validate the note, they will do so by contacting the doctor’s office.
You can get a sick note for anxiety. A doctor must give you a sick note for any condition that interferes with your work productivity. However, only medical professionals who have examined and diagnosed you can sign.
You can fire someone for taking too many absences, but not specifically for being ill. Not only should you avoid any allegations of wrongful termination if you want to stay out of court, but the firing has to comply with FMLA and company policy to be clearly nondiscriminatory and legal. If you are unsure, please consult an attorney for the next steps and information on your current, specific local rights as an employer. Remember that laws change, and the business or institution is responsible for ensuring the FMLA is followed.
It’s important to always ask for a note from your doctor when missing work, doubly so in cases of emergency. You should immediately call in whenever possible to inform your employer that you will be late or absent for medical reasons. It’s important to know that many companies limit how much medical leave they allow before terminating an employee. Read your company policies and discuss medical needs or questions about sick time with your employer. They should clarify when you need to bring in a note. If you plan to request sick days or need to miss classes for health-related reasons, don’t forget to ask for a note to excuse your absence.