We’re fairly sure you recommend that sick patients stay home until they’re feeling better and, just as important, they’re no longer at risk of making their coworkers sick. This has never been more essential than during the recent severe flu seasons in the U.S. Fortunately, according to data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more sick providers stayed home until they’d recovered than in recent years. In fact, health-related workplace absenteeism among healthcare professionals peaked at its highest level in four seasons. Based on data that covered October 2017 through September 2018, absenteeism rose from 1.7% during the initial month to a peak of 3% in January before dropping back down to 2.7% in February 2018. That roughly parallels peak flu incidence. This is a positive development on several fronts: First, it means providers are setting a good example for their patients, rather than living by the Do as I say, not as I do paradox. Second, they’re at much lower risk of infecting colleagues and the patients they’re supposed to caring for, not them putting at risk. Third, they’re able to work at full capacity once they’re better rather than middling through when they’re not at their best. We pass this sage advice along now because it’s always in season—and the next flu season will be just around the corner as soon as the temperature starts receding.
As Flu Rates Climb, So Have Health-Related Absences for Providers (This Is Good News)