Culture change needed for healthcare workers

Doctors are increasingly urging people not to go to work while sick but an astounding percentage do so themselves. Experts say it needs to change.

Culture change needed for healthcare workers
Any seasoned HR professional will know how much damage someone can do by coming into work sick but it seems even the most knowledgeable employees still aren’t catching on.

In a recent survey seeking the input of physicians, nurses, midwives and other health-care professionals, ninety-five per cent said they believed working while sick would put patients at risk.

Shockingly, eighty-three per cent admitted they’d done just that at least once within the last year.

Reasons given by the 536 respondents were:
  • Not wanting to let colleagues down  - 98.7 per cent
  • Staffing concerns - 94.9 per cent
  • Not wanting to let patients down - 92.5 per cent
  • Fear of being ostracized by colleagues - 64 per cent
  • Concerns about the continuity of care - 63.8 per cent
 
Authors of the study, which was published in yesterday’s online issue of JAMA Pediatrics, say three main themes were recurrent in the comments section of the survey – all of which are applicable to the everyday office.

Logistical challenges – a lack of resources to accommodate sick leave, combined with the difficulties of finding someone to cover duties makes taking time off “a nightmare” and “brutal.”

Cultural norm – the shared, ingrained ethos of “physicians do not take days off” deterred many workers from staying home. Some recounted stories of employees working while receiving intravenous hydration.

Ambiguity – despite their own knowledge of human health, many respondents were uncertain of what symptoms constituted taking time off.
 

 

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