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Friday, September 17, 2010

Doctor, heal thyself

Post-grads ignore their own signs and symptoms of sickness

We all know the definition of absenteeism: you fall ill, you call in sick, you stay home and nurse your cold. If you think you know the meaning of presenteeism, then, you’d be right: you feel ill, you go to work anyway. Presenteeism has remained a going concern for many medical residents, despite reforms made over the last decade, according to a recent study conducted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

It seems junior docs in specialties as diverse as internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery and obstetrics/gynecology will risk infecting their patients and co-workers, and risk affecting the quality of their performance more often than what might be prudent, because of the extreme dedication to their jobs. Or, might it as likely be a protection of their image? Often, they don’t want to appear to be shirking their responsibilities in the competitive hospital environments in which they must practice. Some don’t relish finding a replacement, when he or she may also be doing a gruelling 80-hour sleep-deprived week. Plus, add to the mix sincere devotion and empathy for the patients, who would not be familiar or comfortable with the substitute doc.

Study co-author Dr. Anupam Jena, a Massachusetts General Hospital medical resident who did not take part in the JAMA-published study (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/304/11/1166-a?rss=1), admitted to once working overnight, despite developing food-poisoning symptoms. He has company. Of the 537 medical residents anonymously surveyed, almost 58% said they’d worked at least once while sick the previous year, 31% said they’d done so more than once, and at one hospital, a full 100% reported working when sick. Many said they also could not find time to visit a doctor for their symptoms.

Despite the unique pressures on these groups of young physicians, isn’t it time that program directors heighten the emphasis on the benefits of being a healthy hospital practitioner – especially during flu season?
Milena Katz

96 comments:

  1. sharon ( aka Purley Quirt )September 18, 2010 at 7:13 AM

    'Many said they also could not find time to visit a doctor for their symptoms.'

    ........ this is a spoof..... right????????

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  4. well doc... heal me as well.. there are many more problem a man has to heal.. to sooth.. but no time.. does anyone help?

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  6. Yes I agree that docotr's ignore their own health problems while giving advise about health for others. How to remain healthy and fit etc. etc. and they do not have time and inclination to follow what they preach.
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