Unusually, about 64 percent said they anxious their co-workers might ostracize them for calling in sick.
The survey, conducted at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, included responses from 280 attending physicians and more than 250 advanced practice clinicians (APCs), a category that includes certified registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and other highly trained health care providers.
Ninety-five percent of the health care providers who answered the survey believed that working while sick puts patients at risk, yet 83 percent admitted doing so at least once in the past year.
Of the 538 providers who participated in the study, 94 percent understood that working while sick placed their patients at risk.
Apparently, most healthcare workers show up for work even when they’re under the weather.
Researchers asked how often they worked while sick and the reasons they did so, through a series of both multiple-choice and open-ended questions.
The physicians cited concerns ranging from continuity of care and letting patients down to staffing concerns and fears of professional ostracism for continuing to work while aware that they really shouldn’t be. Almost 75 percent said they would go to work with a cough or runny nose. Generally, doctors were more likely than the other healthcare workers to report they would work while ill.
He advised looking more into barrier protections so workers who are sick but not yet experiencing symptoms cannot pass their illnesses on. Some experts say this kind of work environment needs to change. About 95% of them acknowledged that working while sick is a danger to the patient’s health.
Lowering the stigma that can come with sick leave “must factor in workplace demands and variability in patient census [count] and emphasize flexibility”, Dr. Jeffrey Starke, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, wrote in a related editorial. While rates are declining overall, the CDC estimatesone in 25 USA hospital patients has an HAI on any given day. The anonymous participants in this study were not assessed by job title and the data was taken from only one hospital where the patients were limited to children.
“Over the past few years, our hospital has increasingly become a place where everyone is expected to work at peak capacity at all times, and there is minimum redundancy or give to accommodate acute illness”, wrote one pediatrician who took the survey.
They said that they had come to the hospital or clinic and tended to other despite having diarrhea, fever and symptoms of the flu, CBS reported.