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Doctors, nurses who go in to work sick themselves pose malpractice risk

If a healthcare worker is distracted by their own illness, they are more likely to make a mistake that could impact patient safety.
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    February 09, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In the height of flu season, there are plenty of sniffles, headaches and upset stomachs to go around. Sometimes a person with a bad cold or flu ends up in a clinic or hospital -- but it is not always a patient.

According to a number of recent studies, doctors and other healthcare workers are more likely than those in other fields to go in to work despite admitting that the state of their own health warrants a sick day. This dangerous trend can cause medical malpractice.

Around three out of four doctors and nurses say they go to work when feeling ill

"Presenteeism" is the term used to describe the phenomenon in which employees are at work, but are not getting much done and are making mistakes because they are distracted or do not feel well. Going in to work sick is one of the worst causes of presenteeism.

According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, up to 80 percent of doctors go in to work even when they themselves feel ill. The problem is no less pronounced among other healthcare workers, who often feel like they are indispensible at work, will unduly burden coworkers by calling in sick or will appear less dedicated to supervisors if they call in sick.

A separate study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing Research Network in 2013 found that approximately 75 percent of nurses reported going to work while experiencing some level of pain. Nurses who admitted to frequent presenteeism also admitted to making more medication errors and being involved in a higher number of patient falls.

Some of the presenteeism in the medical field caused by illness can be headed off by taking preemptive measures. But, according to the CDC, fewer than three out of four healthcare workers even bother to get a flu shot.

"A lot of [presenteeism] is inevitable despite preemptive intervention," Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer with Texas Health Resources told Healthcare Daily. "You are going to be a lot fresher at the beginning of a surgery than at the end."

Talk to a lawyer if you may have been harmed by medical malpractice.

When doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers go in to work sick, they not only risk infecting patients with their own illness, they are also more likely to make a mistake that impacts patient safety.

When you are being treated by a healthcare provider, you should not have to worry if your doctor or nurse is fully focused on what he or she is doing. When presenteeism due to illness or any other factor affects your standard of care and you are injured as a result, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney today if you believe you or a family member may have been harmed by a healthcare worker's mistake.

Article provided by Hastings Law Firm P.C.
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