Healthcare News & Insights

How you’re making your patients sicker

It’s considered a badge of courage when doctors and other health care providers soldier through minor illnesses to tend to their patients. But should it be?

New research indicates that many clinicians underestimate the risk they put their patients — and co-workers — in when they come into work even when they’re sick.

Among other disturbing findings: As many as 80% of doctors continue to work when ill — even if they are presenting with symptoms for which they would tell patients to stay home from work. Worse, even when those practitioners take additional (voluntary) steps to reduce disease transmission, they’re still likely to pass on their germs to colleagues and patients.

Across all industries such “presenteeism” — workers who should stay home but don’t — cost businesses an estimated $150 billion annually in lost productivity. Health care may only see a small slice of that, but we also have to figure in the increased risks to patients — especially those who are already have compromised immune systems — something that’s impossible to put a price tag on.

The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (link opens a downloadable PDF).

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  1. al yearty says:

    This is a hot issue here since the pandemic scare with swine flu but with the staffing shortages currently encountered in this area it puts a hardship on everyone who are at work. I wonder how the patient care suffers when multiple staff are out with sniffles