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A survey of medical residents at a 2010 Illinois medical meeting published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that doctors are often likely to show up for work when they are sick.
More than half of the 150 residents questioned said that they had worked despite having flu-like symptoms in the previous year, and around 25 percent said they had done so at least three times.
Dr. Deborah Grady writes about the study, “We don’t know how sick the residents in this survey were, but it probably doesn’t matter much, since being afebrile is not a very specific test for lack of infectiveness. Working while sick may demonstrate an admirable sense of responsibility to patients and colleagues, but clinicians also need to worry about the real danger of infecting vulnerable patients as well as colleagues and staff.”
Asked why they would take the chance of spreading germs in their workplaces, 56 percent of the doctors said they did not want to let their patients down and 57 percent didn’t want to burden their colleagues.