A new survey revealed that a large number of physicians are willing to continue seeing patients despite severe symptoms that may indicate contagious disease, such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and influenza-like illness.
Indeed, 96.4% of survey respondents said they would work while experiencing common cold symptoms, 77% said they would work while experiencing diarrhea, and 53.6% said they would work while experiencing vomiting. Notably, 36.3% of physicians said they would continue to work and to see patients after a test-confirmed diagnosis of influenza.
Physicians were willing to work while sick even if their patients were neutropenic: 47.3% of respondents said they would enter a neutropenic patient’s room despite cold symptoms, 28.9% said they would do so despite diarrhea, and 12.5% said they would do so despite fever ≥101°F.
Overall, fever did not provide a strong barrier to physicians’ willingness to work. As many as 84.3% would see patients with a fever of ≤100.9°F, 49.3% would see patients despite a fever of 101-102.9°F, and 24.3% would see patients despite a fever of ≥103°F.
Researchers at the University of California Irvine presented the results from their anonymous, structured electronic survey at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, IDWeek, held in October in San Diego.
From a sample population at an academic hospital, 60.5% of those receiving the survey responded (474/784). The respondents included medical students (88), residents (193), fellows (40), and attendings (153).
Survey respondents cited guilt and not believing they would be very contagious as reasons they would continue working, but 70% of survey respondents indicated that seeing colleagues sent home if they work while ill and seeing a lack of negative repercussions for physicians who stay home would make them more likely to stay home themselves.
Source: IDWeek 2015 Abstract #328. Do No Harm: Attitudes Among Physicians and Trainees About Working While Ill
US Professional News Oct 5, 2015