Study Reveals Reasons Why Majority of Doctors Show Up for Work While Sick

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Work while sickA recent survey published online by JAMA Pediatrics  suggests that many clinicians show up to work while feeling ill, despite knowing that this could place their patients at risk.

Studies show that health care workers are the main cause of influenza and norovirus in hospitals and clinics. If a patient is infected while being treated, this could aggravate their current illness, resulting in increased costs for the patient.

In order to figure out why some health care workers choose to come to work ill, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted an anonymous survey at their hospital.

Approximately 280 physicians and 256 advanced practice clinicians—including nurse practitioners, specialists, doctors’ assistants, anesthetists, and midwives—completed the survey.

Approximately 95% of respondents agreed that patients are at a high risk when health care workers attend work while sick. In addition, 83.1% stated that they had attended work while sick at least once in the past year. A further 9.3% said they attended work while sick at least five times in the past year. The reasons why they come to work while sick include the following:

  • Approximately 98% didn’t want to let their colleagues down
  • Approximately 94% were worried about staffing concerns
  • Approximately 92% felt obligated to their patients
  • Approximately 64% feared receiving the “cold shoulder” from their peers

Health care workers conclude that patient safety is a priority and that change is needed to decrease the stigma when not showing up for work while ill.

Source for Today’s Article:
McNamee, D., “Why are doctors so guilty of working while sick?” Medical News Today web site, July 7, 2015;