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Could Your Doctor Put You at Risk by Coming to Work Sick?

California doctors routinely come to work when they are sick, according to a new study. While their work ethic is admirable, the practice is putting patients at risk.

As reported by, researchers polled 474 doctors at an academic hospital in California who were at various stages in their medical careers. Nearly all of the respondents stated that they would go to work with a cold. More than a third said they would not stay home if they had the flu.

With regard to specific symptoms, the survey revealed the following:

  • More than three-quarters said they would work if they had diarrhea;
  • More than half said they would work if they were vomiting;
  • Half said they would work if they had a fever between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit; and
  • One quarter said they would work with a fever higher than 103 degrees.

Even more concerning, doctors that work in emergency medicine or surgery, where infections pose the greatest risks, were more likely than other specialists to come to work sick. In addition, only 30 percent of all doctors reported that they would not wear protective gear, such as a facemask, if they came to work with the flu.

When doctors come to work with a cold, flu or other illness, they risk infecting both patients and other staff members. While most doctors are likely aware of the risk, the study found that they felt bad about leaving their colleagues to shoulder their workloads.

In the wake of the study, the hospital informed the staff that its management supported doctors staying home while sick, and detailed the types of symptoms that indicate doctors should stay home sick.

If you or someone you love has suffered from a hospital-acquired infection attributed to medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.