Navigation Links
Doctors cite concern for patients, colleagues top motives for working sick

An unwavering work ethic is a hallmark of many health professionals. But a new survey finds that when a doctor is sick, staunch dedication can have unintended consequences.

A poll of 150 attendees of an American College of Physicians meeting in 2010 revealed that more than half of resident physicians had worked with flu-like symptoms at least once in the last year. One in six reported working sick on three or more occasions during the year, according to the survey conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital. Notably, when asked whether they believed they'd ever directly transmitted an illness to a patient, nearly 10 percent of respondents answered yes. More than 20 percent believed other residents had passed on an illness to a patient.

The results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine are further evidence of a culture of self-sacrifice long prevalent in medicine. Researchers say a physician's sense of loyalty to already-overwhelmed peers, along with a commitment to patient care, often conflicts with an ethical stance against exposing patients and staff to an illness or compromised performance. Unfortunately, most find health care cultures to be well established and incredibly stubborn.

"Resisting the pressure to work when ill can be particularly difficult for young doctors," said study author Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, an internal medicine resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital and an alumnus of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. "A work-first, self-second attitude is often seen as ideal among peers, superiors and even patients."

In the first known account of the reasons for the phenomenon known as "presenteeism" among doctors-in-training, more than half of respondents cited obligation to colleagues who'd be forced to cover their duties or an obligation to patient care as the top reasons for not taking a sick day. Far fewer, 12 percent, indicated they'd worked when ill due to concerns their colleagues would think they were "weak" and 8 percent came to work sick because they felt pressured to repay colleagues for coverage.

Seniority appeared to be a factor in the results, as second-year residents were more likely than first-years to select responsibility to patient care as a reason for presenteeism. Gender differences were brought to light with female residents more likely to work sick and cite patient care as the reason. Female residents were also more likely to report fear of being perceived as weak as a motive for not taking time off.

While time away from the office carries a similar stigma in other high-pressure professions, an executive showing up sick to the boardroom is far less worrisome than a doctor with the flu treating patients. An otherwise healthy doctor can often recover quickly, but an infected patient with an already-compromised immune system may not.

The study authors are calling for presenteeism to be better identified and addressed by medical educators and residency leaders. They acknowledge that the recent Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) mandate that doctors be deemed "fit for duty" is a good start.

"In addition, adequate systems of coverage and occupational health guidelines should be established regarding working when ill," said Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, one of the study's authors and an associate professor of medicine and associate program director of the internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago Medicine. "Faculty should ensure residents are taught that refraining from work while ill is the best and most professional way to ensure responsible and safe care for patients."

Contact: Tiffani Washington
University of Chicago Medical Center

Related medicine news :

1. Study finds doctors have exaggerated fears when starting patients on insulin
2. Doctors Detail High Costs of Fighting Malpractice Claims
3. Callahan honored for improving older adults health in their doctors offices
4. Doctors Urge Routine Skin Screenings
5. Doctors Restore Some Hand Function to Quadriplegic Patient
6. Men Can Still Ask for PSA Test, and Some Should, Doctors Say
7. Female Doctors Earn Less Than Male Counterparts: Study
8. Male doctors make $12K more per year than female doctors
9. Is it constitutional for states to regulate pharmaceutical gifts and meals to doctors?
10. Timing pregnancy an important health concern for women
11. Concerns about MRSA for expectant mothers may be unfounded
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... Fla. (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Global ... Trend magazine’s 2016 Legal Elite. The attorneys chosen by their peers for this recognition ... Florida. , Seven Greenberg Traurig Shareholders received special honors as members of this year’s ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited to announce they ... to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. Comfort Keepers provides ... life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments is one of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils ... an essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic ... 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... The Haute Beauty Network, affiliated with ... as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest partner. , Dr. ... handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be invisible.” He stands by ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Strategic Capital Partners, LLC (SCP) in ... investment capital for emerging technology companies. SCP has delivered investment events and ... more than a million dollars of capital investment for five companies. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 The vast ... an outpatient dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually 3 times ... hours per visit, including travel time, equipment preparation and ... patient, but especially grueling for patients who are elderly ... a skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers for some duration ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANKLIN, Tenn. , June 23, 2016 ... for automating, integrating and transforming the patient ... launch of several innovative new products and ... depth of its revenue cycle offerings. These ... establish more efficient workflows, remain compliant in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today announced that ... organization as its newest member.  ... and chief scientific officer, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, will serve ... of Directors. ... in support of our efforts to conduct research ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: