Body & Fitness

Superheroes don’t take sick leave

Medical professionals are clocking in when they're sick - to the detriment of their patients?
Surgeons operating on patient

75% of senior doctors work while suffering from an infectious illness, according to a study.

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists surveyed almost 2000 medical and dental specialists from district health boards nationwide. Many of the study’s respondents admitted to clocking in whilst sick – even with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

“We think this is symptomatic of a massive lack of investment in our senior medical workforce,” study author Dr Charlotte Chambers told Nine to Noon.

“I think these doctors are feeling an immense amount of pressure from management to keep on working and they don’t want to let their colleagues down, but most of all they don’t want to let their patients down.

“They’re working through illness because they fear if they don’t their patients are going to miss out on timely care.”

The findings were collated into a report titled “Superheroes don’t take sick leave”.

Half of the respondents said they had gone to work sick three or more times in the past 12 months. The study found a very low rate of sick leave in the industry.

“It’s an issue of huge concern. I think all the doctors recognise this is less than ideal behaviour. But I think evidence is the massive amount of pressure these doctors are faced with.

“They have to wake up in the morning and make that call – do I go to work or do the surgeries get cancelled?”

One of those surveyed said they attended an outpatient clinic to see patients whilst being treated for severe pneumonia.

A pregnant female specialist felt compelled to attend a cardiac arrest when afflicted with gastro-enteritis.

“She said ‘I doubt I performed optimally, but I felt I had no choice but to box on’.”

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