Do Doctors Really Report Sick Out Of Fear Of Being ‘Ostracized’?

A vast majority of healthcare workers have confessed that they show up to work sick – despite knowing they might be contagious and pose a risk to their patients, a new study reveals. I’m sure we’ve all wondered who treats a doctor when they get sick? Turns out it’s nobody because hardly any of them reports it. Medical professionals including physicians, registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives all work while under the weather, according to results from a small survey published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers included around 530 attending physicians and advanced practice clinicians at a hospital in their survey and found that while 95.3% said they believed working while sick puts patients at risk, 83.1% had done it at least one time in the past year.

Most respondents claim they prefer working while sick to avoid overburdening fellow co-workers. Others stated there were staffing concerns, they did not want to leave their patients hanging – and sometimes even fear of being “ostracized” by their senior colleagues in the hospital.

However, despite being authentic, the research was conducted in only one hospital, hence it doesn’t cover all doctors. However, despite this major drawback, the researchers concluded that the study shows there is need for improvement and more flexibility in this category of health issues to ensure optimum patient care.

“Creating a safer and more equitable system of sick leave for health care workers requires a culture change in many institutions to decrease stigma—internal and external—associated with health care works illness,” reads a corresponding editorial. “Identifying solutions to prioritize patient safety must factor in workforce demands and variability in patient census to emphasize flexibility.”

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