Certifying FMLA eligibility after an ED encounter

May 16, 2008

When I serve on the ED call roster, I frequently see elderly patients. Recently, I've received several requests to fill out FMLA forms from adult children who accompanied their parents to the ED and then took time off from work to care for them after they left the hospital. I only cared for these patients in the ED. Do I have any obligation to fill out these forms?

When I serve on the ED call roster, I frequently see elderly patients. Recently, I've received several requests to fill out FMLA forms from adult children who accompanied their parents to the ED and then took time off from work to care for them after they left the hospital. I only cared for these patients in the ED. Do I have any obligation to fill out these forms?

Not in these cases. Since you have no clue about the status of such patients after they left the ED, you can't certify, as the form requires, that "the presence of a family member is necessary for the proper care or comfort of the patient." The best you can do is to attest to the date and time the person requesting the leave was present at the hospital with the patient. Perhaps that's all the family members are looking for.

There's no law that requires you to fill out FMLA forms, but most doctors do it anyway, as part of their professional obligation to help their patients.

The answers to our reader's question was provided by Barbara Fick, Assoc. Professor, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, IN.

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