Can a doctor refuse to give a medical release to return to work?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a doctor refuse to give a medical release to return to work?

They took me off work and told me not to return until we could figure out what was wrong. They told me that I could have MS or my Chiari Malformation could be causing my problems. I went to the neurosurgeon who did not think it was that bad on the Chiari. He referred me to

a neurologist. I called the Ortho doctors now they claim that the neurosurgeon was responsible for my time off work. I had no clue and nor did the neurosugeon. I can’t get a medical release and could loose my job I have begged them to release me and they are telling me that they are not responsible the ortho doctor is the ones who took me off work.

Asked on May 27, 2016 under Malpractice Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a doctor may refuse to give you a medical release for work if:
1) The doctor does not believe it is safe or medically appropriate for you to return to work--a doctor cannot be made to do anything medically which they think is wrong; and/or 
2) The doctor is not the one who told you not to return in the first place--doctor A cannot be required against his/her will to contradict doctor B and take on him/herself the potential liabilty from releasing you against another doctor's advice (since if they do and something goes wrong, they could face legal liabiltiy). (A doctor could choose to provide the release in this circumstance, but is not required to.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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