The Blaze first brought you the startling video of doctors -- many of whom are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin -- handing out questionable absence excuse slips to protesters "sick" of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Sunday:
Almost immediately, many Americans watching the debate unfold in Madison questioned the ethics of medical professionals abusing their caretaker position for political reasons. Now, the University has opened its own investigation into their behavior and the Wisconsin Medical Society has openly condemned their actions.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is investigating whether some of its doctors were writing fake sick notes to people missing work to attend protests at the state capitol.
"This involves a few individuals out of the nearly 1,300 physicians at UW Health," Lisa Brunette, Director of Media Relations for the school said in a statement. "These UW Health physicians were acting on their own and without the knowledge or approval of UW Health."
"These charges are very serious and in response the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, two of the entities that comprise UW Health, will immediately launch an investigation of the reported behavior. The investigation will identify which UW Health physicians were involved and whether their behavior constituted violations of medical ethics or University of Wisconsin and UW Health policies and work rules," she added.
The Wisconsin Medical Society, the state’s doctor group, said in a statement that it “does not condone these actions under any circumstances.”
One of the UW Health doctors at the capitol over the weekend, Dr. Lou Sanner, defended his actions to the Associated Press. "Some people think it's a nod-and-wink thing, but it's not," he said, claiming he wrote notes for protesters suffering from stress. His excuse slips were “as valid as every other work note that I’ve written for the last 30 years,” he added.
According to Sanner, the doctors were providing a public service and were surprised to return home from the protests to find angry emails and phone calls from outraged people across the country.
"We're not political activists. We were surprised at the nationwide organized vitriol that has come our way so quickly," he said. "Apparently we hit a nerve. I've been a doctor for 30 years. I kind of missed when politics got this viral, this national."
At least one of the doctors at the scene, Dr. James Shropshire, is actually a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin.
Many of the protesters at the state capitol were teachers staging a "sick in," calling in sick to receive an excused absence from work. On Monday, the Madison Metropolitan School District was again forced to close its doors due to a teacher shortage. "We have received assurances that staff members will return to work on Tuesday, February 22. Therefore, all Madison School District schools will be open to students on Tuesday and will resume with their regular daily schedule," the district's website said.
Madison Superintendent Daniel Nerad said school officials were aware of the doctors' note-signing station, but offered no hint as to how administration officials would manage the situation.
"We're reviewing how we go forward in case where those types of notes are provided," he said Sunday. "I don't know yet what the conclusion will be."
The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board has also received information and complaints about the events but has offered no comment on the matter.
For more on the ongoing state budget debate in Wisconsin, the Heritage Foundation offers this "Myth vs. Fact" presentation: