To Take A Sick Day? or Not To Take A Sick Day? That Is The Question

Posted by in Ethics, Nurse, Patient Safety, Sick Day

Whenever an individual’s health or lack there of is in question, common sense tells us that most people would turn to someone in the health care industry for either advice or to seek treatment. This mainstay of what the majority of us do when we feel like we are coming down with something is surprisingly not the same for those very same people whom we reach out to for help. Remember when you were growing up and certain adults would always drop the phrase, ‘do as I say, and not as I do’? Well this phrase is a prime example and is applicable to a numerous amount of doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurses who are currently caring for patients (and very sick patients at that). Typically, when you go to your primary care doctor because you are feeling ill, if necessary they will tell you that you should stay home from either work or school until you are feeling better or the prescribed medications take effect. In contrast, when the tables are turned and it is the physician’s health that is in question, all of that brilliant medical knowledge, logic and reasoning seems to fly right out the window.

The ugly truth surrounding this issue is that even though we ‘know better’ than to come to work sick, we more times than not will jeopardize not only our own health, but the health of our fellow team members and more importantly our patients. So why would we intentionally place others at risk and struggle through a day at work while feeling at our worst? The answer is actually quite simple. The justification we provide for working while feeling crummy, is related in large part to the extreme amount of guilt we would feel surrounding the potential repercussions of our absence. It is difficult and for some even unfathomable to bare the burden and emotional stress that results from leaving your coworkers short staffed all because you feel a tad bit under the weather. This is is mainly due to the presumption that if we were to call out sick, then we would be inadvertently placing our coworkers in a bind. So instead of focusing on our health and attempting to get well, we selfishly push all logic aside and show up to work our shift. The potential ramifications that our illness could have on both our fellow team members and our patients is exponential, in conjunction to our increased risk of causing a medical error. As healthcare professionals, we must live by example and not feel guilty for taking a sick day, where a sick day is warranted.