Whether we listen to them or not, doctors are the ones who tell the rest of us not to go to work sick. The reasons vary, but two of the most popular ones are that we risk infection others and that we need to rest if we intend to get better any time soon. So one would assume that doctors of all people would listen to their own advice, right? Wrong.
A new survey conducted by researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia looked at 500 physicians, nurses and physician assistants, and tried to determine why these healthcare workers would go to work while they’re sick, especially when almost all of them (95 percent / 95%) admitted that they’re putting the health of their patients in danger.
One unnamed emergency department physician answered the survey by saying that “There is an unspoken understanding that you probably should be on your deathbed if you are calling in sick”.
The physician went on to add that their absence would inconvenience their colleagues and that paying back shifts is usually a very complicated process that can easily make them look bad. So “It is much, much less stressful to suck it up and come in sick than call out”.
The findings, published earlier this week, on Monday (July 7, 2015), in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, revealed that more than 83 percent (83%) of the participants admitted to coming to their workplace sick at least once this last year, and 9 percent (9%) admitted to coming to their workplace sick at least five (5) times this last year.
More than 50 percent (50%) of the participants admitted to coming to their workplace sick between two (2) to four (4) times this last year.
When it comes to reasons why health professionals would exhibit such a behavior, 98.7 percent (98.7%) of the 536 participants said that they don’t want to let their colleagues down, 94.9 percent (94.9%) expressed staffing concerns, 92.5 percent (92.5%) declared that they don’t want to let their patients down, 64 percent (64%) admitted they were afraid of being ostracized by their colleagues, and 63.8 percent (63.8%) worried about the care continuity.
The health issues that most of them faced on those days ranged from simple sore throats and coughs, to fevers and diarrheas, as well as more serious respiratory symptoms.
A total of 75 percent (75%) stated that they would go to work if they simply had a cough or a running nose, 55.6 percent (55.6%) would do the same if they had serious respiratory problems, 30 percent (30%) said that they would still work if they had diarrhea, and only 5 percent (5%) who go do their job if they were vomiting.
Another one of the main issues that lead researcher Julia E. Szymczak, Ph.D at the Philadelphia’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. Jeffrey Starke, a pediatrician from the Baylor College of Medicine (Houston), and the rest of the surveying team found was that most of the participating health professionals worked in hospitals where upper management did not support taking off sick days.
Dr. Starke stressed that productivity was a major issue for most of the participants, to the point where they are being monitored and the number of patients that they see during the course of a day is being counted.
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