Nursing

When nurses get sick, a culture of toughing it out can put patients at risk

Nurse Leader Insider, December 3, 2015

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A woman comes to the hospital lobby asking to visit a friend who has recently had surgery. The visitor is coughing heavily and appears to be sick. Do you let her in to see her friend? Most hospitals would say no; a well-meaning but sick friend or relative could have a devastating effect on an immunocompromised patient.

Meanwhile, a nurse arrives for his shift with the exact same cough as the sick visitor. Do you let him go to work, potentially treating the exact same immunocompromised patients you're trying to protect?
According to a study published this July by The Journal of the American Medical Association, the answer is yes.

The study found 83% of physicians and advanced care practitioners (APCs) came to work sick while in 2014, with 9% going to work at least five times while sick. Of those who came to work, 30% were experiencing diarrhea, 16% had a fever, and 56% had an acute onset of significant respiratory issues. This is despite the fact that 95% of respondents believe coming work sick is a health risk for patients.


So what compels nurses to go to work sick, even though they know it's a bad idea?

Read the rest of this post at our blog for nurse managers.
 



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