Monday, July 1, 2019

Healthcare workers often work while sick: “Charity begins at home”

Dr KK Aggarwal

Most healthcare workers (HCWs) with an acute respiratory illness (ARI) have worked during most episodes of ARI, putting their patients and coworkers at risk for infection, finds a recent study published online June 18 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

HCWs from 9 Canadian hospitals were prospectively enrolled in active surveillance for ARI during the 2010–2011 to 2013–2014 influenza seasons. Daily illness diaries during ARI episodes collected information on symptoms and work attendance.

·           At least 1 ARI episode was reported by 50.4% of participants each study season.
·    Overall, 94.6% of ill individuals reported working at least 1 day while symptomatic, resulting in an estimated 1.9 days of working while symptomatic and 0.5 days of absence during an ARI per participant season.
·           In multivariable analysis, the adjusted relative risk of working while symptomatic was higher for physicians and lower for nurses relative to other HCWs.
·           Participants were more likely to work if symptoms were less severe and on the illness onset date compared to subsequent days.
·           The most cited reason for working while symptomatic was that symptoms were mild and the HCW felt well enough to work (67%).
·           Participants were more likely to state that they could not afford to stay home if they did not have paid sick leave and were younger.

Doctors often neglect their health because of the increasing demands of their profession. There is a general perception among the public that doctors are never ill. But, this is not true. The medical profession by itself is a health hazard. Exposure to infections, poor sleep quality or sleep deprivation, work-related stress are potential health risks of the medical profession. 
It is often said that "Charity begins at home". 

Doctors should also take care of their own health. This is important not only for themselves but for their patients too. 

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA

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