Tags: doctors | sick | flu | work

Half of Doctors Won’t Call in Sick

Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012 11:45 AM



A new survey of physicians is giving new meaning to the expression, “Doctor, heal thyself.”
A poll of 150 doctors attending an American College of Physicians meeting in 2010 found more than half said they had worked with flu-like symptoms at least once in the previous year. One in six cared for patients while sick on three or more occasions, according to the survey conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital.
What’s more nearly 10 percent said they believe they had directly transmitted an illness to a patient and 20 percent knew of other doctors who had done so.
Researchers said the results, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, underscore many physicians’ sense of loyalty, but noted that it comes at a health cost to their co-workers and patients.
"Resisting the pressure to work when ill can be particularly difficult for young doctors," said researcher Dr. Anupam B. Jena, with Massachusetts General Hospital. "A work-first, self-second attitude is often seen as ideal among peers, superiors and even patients."
In explaining the motivations behind what researchers dubbed "presenteeism," they said more than half of the doctors cited an obligation to colleagues who'd be forced to cover their duties or to patients as the top reasons for not taking a sick day.
Female doctors were also more likely to work sick and cite patient care as the reason.
Researchers said the study underscores the need for “presenteeism” to be better identified and addressed by medical educators and healthcare administrators. A healthy doctor with the flu who treats patients can often recover quickly, but an infected patient with an already-compromised immune system may not, they noted.
"In addition, adequate systems of coverage and occupational health guidelines should be established regarding working when ill," said researcher Dr. Vineet Arora. "Faculty should ensure residents are taught that refraining from work while ill is the best and most professional way to ensure responsible and safe care for patients."

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Many doctors admit to working with flu-like symptoms, potentially putting patients at risk.
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Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012 11:45 AM
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