June 18, 2019

Study: Healthcare workers often care for patients while ill themselves

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

Large numbers of healthcare workers go to work with symptoms of cold, flu, and other acute respiratory illnesses, this study finds.

In this survey of healthcare workers from nine Canadian hospitals during four influenza seasons, 94.6% reported working while sick with an acute respiratory illness, most often because the symptoms were mild or started during their workday.

Multivariate analysis showed that the risk of working while symptomatic was higher for physicians and lower for nurses, compared to other healthcare workers.

The findings suggest the need to educate healthcare workers, managers, workplace health and safety and infection control staff, and administrators about the risk of transmitting acute respiratory viral infections, to clarify which symptoms require exclusion from work, and to implement policies for working while symptomatic, the researchers say.

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