Home E-Weekly November 7, 2017

How Sick Is Too Sick to Work?

Published: November 6, 2017

TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE A new study finds that 40% of healthcare professionals go to work sick.

As a healthcare professional, you probably advise patients feeling under the weather time and time again to stay home from surgery if you're sick. But a new study finds that healthcare workers might not practice what they preach.

A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) reports that 4 in 10 physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare staff still go to work even if they're experiencing influenza-like illness.

Of 914 healthcare professionals surveyed during the 2014-2015 influenza season, 414 reported experiencing influenza-like symptoms, such as having a fever, cough or sore throat, and 183 of those workers — about 45% &mdash% reported still going into work while sick. The study found that some of the most common reasons people go into work when they know they're sick are not feeling "bad enough" to stay home, feeling like they could still perform their duties and not being able to find a coworker to cover for them.

"The statistics are alarming," says Sophia Chiu, MD, MPH, lead researcher of the study, in a press release. "At least one earlier study has shown that patients who are exposed to a healthcare worker who is sick are 5 times more likely to get a healthcare-associated infection."

Dr. Chiu recommends healthcare facilities take the proper steps to encourage their staff not to come into work while they're sick. You should also remind staff to get their flu shots — previously published results of the same survey found that only 77.3% of providers took that preventative measure.

Brielle Gregory

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