Doctoring the medical certificate

I’m a member of a sports club that has a swimming pool and gym – both of which require a valid medical certificate before the club will let me in to use the facilities.

This is bit annoying. Every gym I have used in the past in every country I have travelled to just relied on self-certification – you make your own choice to be there in the gym and they are not liable if you have any health problems.

But this is Brazil – there is often a need for a piece of paper to be signed when it might be better to just shake hands or trust in people. Nevertheless, I went off to the local GP to get a certificate.

“Are you feeling OK?” he asked.

“Yes, no problems,” I replied.

He stamped the paper and gave it to me. He didn’t check my pulse, temperature, blood pressure – nothing.

What’s worse than having to get a medical certificate every three months so I can go and exercise at the gym? How about the doctor not even bothering to check if I am actually OK anyway.

The reality is that this is only a mild annoyance, but it’s symptomatic of wider issues around bureaucracy in Brazil. Just because a process exists does not mean that there is a reason for it to exist. Someone should question it.

My gym could easily put a sign on the wall saying ‘by entering this room you accept liability for your own health and cannot sue us…’ But if they did that, the doctors would probably complain about all the cash they are losing, just by taking a few seconds to stamp a form.

Who is right and who is wrong?

The Doctor's Tenth Incarnation

Photo by Rooner’s toy photography licensed under Creative Commons

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5 responses to “Doctoring the medical certificate

  1. When I resigned from a job I had to go to a doctor first to get a health certificate. Unlike you, he did actually get his stethoscope out and check my breathing, but that was it. It was a complete waste of an afternoon for all concerned.

    • Stephen, that’s the annoying thing. It’s like there is no respect for anyone’s time. I’m fairly flexible as I work for myself, but I still resent having to do all of these things during the working day. If a doctor or gym wants me to see them abd out a stamp on a piece of paper then really they should be available out of hours.

  2. Some facilities say medical exam is required and they make us to through a non-medical professional (a bag room attendant) who is supposed to to check the skin fod fungus. They never do it in a proper way, besides a R$5 fee must be paid every three months. This is part of a bureaucracy state of mind, but also a way of making easy money, as you well described. Nothing to do with law suits or concern about their guests wellbeing.

    • If it is not connected to law suits (people having health problems in the gym) then it is even worse. Even a sign inside the gym stating that the person accepts liability for their own health would be enough to prevent law suits – and also to prevent the need for all the stamping of certificates.

  3. Mark, for me it’s sad to see bureaucracy being badly used to create so many business opportunities.

    The solution could be more eGovernment especially as Brazil aims to become a digitally advanced society.

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