Working while sick

A few days ago, I learned about visual abstracts, a great way to encapsulate the essence of a paper. You can read more about visual abstracts here. Here's my first attempt using a recent paper in the American Journal of Infection Control.

This paper tells us that hospitals can't just mandate influenza vaccine for their workers and think that they have done their job. Preventing the transmission of respiratory illnesses requires a more comprehensive approach that makes a real attempt at keeping sick healthcare workers at home. Of note, the rate of vaccination in the survey participants was 45%, and vaccine effectiveness that season was only 19%.

Bottom line: Influenza like illness (ILI) has many causes, influenza vaccine is modestly to moderately effective against three of those, and healthcare workers continue to place patients at risk by coming to work when sick with ILI.


  1. Two quick comments:
    1. That is a cool graphic. And I need to figure out how to do that!
    2. I don't know anyone who has instituted a mandate and 'walked away' thinking they were done with influenza management. As with other places, our mandate is only one component of a comprehensive respiratory illness (including influenza) management plan, that also includes (but is not limited to) work restriction and return to work guidance and leadership communications among other efforts to prevent presenteeism.

  2. As common sense as it is to stay away from the work environment to prevent transmission opportunities, in the UK there is a fear culture among staff of being penalised in their pay packet (this applies particularly in the care home sector with low paid staff) and being percieved as 'skiving' off work.

    When you look at the root of this culture and thinking that it's OK to go to work when you are not feeling well, it tracks back to how we are trained in school to think about illness, reinforced today by schools performance measurements including 'Absenteeism' charts.

    Until leadership teams place equal importance on creating an environment where staff feel valued and safe, integrating their safety as well as the client/service user safety and organisation safety into policies, systems and procedures, people will continue to interpet what is and isn't acceptable drawing references from their life experiences.

    Perhaps a different approach is required to teaching IPC principles, one which connects with all roles working in healthcare environments and one which weaves human factors of taking 100% responsibility for ones life outcomes....


Post a Comment

Thanks for submitting your comment to the Controversies blog. To reduce spam, all comments will be reviewed by the blog moderator prior to publishing. However, all legitimate comments will be published, whether they agree with or oppose the content of the post.

Most Read Posts (Last 30 Days)