Sick Healthcare Professionals Put Patients at RiskDecember 4, 2017
When people acquire an illness, they trust doctors and nurses to help them recover. When healthcare professionals (HCPs) acquire illnesses themselves, they are not able to provide the care their patients need. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities must have systems in place to ensure that sick workers can stay home and avoid infecting patients. However, a recent study reveals that many HCPs report to work when suffering from an influenza-like illness (ILI).
Results of an annual survey were published in the American Journal of Infection Control. A group of 1,914 HCPs working in hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, doctor offices, long-term care facilities, or other clinical facilities responded during flu season. Of the 414 workers that reported experiencing an ILI during this season, about four in every 10 surveyed said that they worked through it, for a median period of three days.
HCPs in hospitals showed the highest rate of working with an ILI at 49.3 percent, while 28.5 percent of workers at long-term care facilities reported doing so. Of the clinical HCPs who responded, pharmacists and physicians most frequently reported working while sick, at rates of over 60 percent. Assistants, aides, nonclinical HCPs, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other clinical HCPs all reported working with an ILI at rates of above 30 percent.
Workers Underestimated Severity of Illnesses
Respondents were asked to indicate why they chose to work while they were experiencing an ILI. Many felt that their illness would not prevent them from performing their duties, or that their illness was not severe enough to warrant taking time off. Some did not think that they were contagious. Others reported that they worked through their illness due to professional obligation, either because they did not want to let their coworkers down or they were not able to find someone to cover their shift. In long-term care facilities, almost half of respondents indicated that they could not afford to lose wages by staying home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that healthcare workers stay home when they are ill, and that healthcare facilities give them the resources to do so. Like employees in any industry, HCPs run the risk of infecting their coworkers when they report to work while experiencing an ILI. These facilities carry the additional risk of passing on illnesses to patients who are vulnerable to infection. According to another study, patients who encounter a sick HCP are five times more likely to contract a hospital-acquired illness, which can have fatal consequences for patients whose immune systems are compromised.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman and Hamilton, P.A. Obtain Compensation for Victims of Hospital-Acquired Illnesses
If you or a loved one has suffered a hospital-acquired illness, call the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. We will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine if medical negligence was a factor in your illness and hold the responsible parties accountable. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation. With offices conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, we help victims throughout the state of Maryland.