Why Don’t Doctors Take Sick Days?

A survey of British doctors back in the ’90s found that 87 percent of G.P.’s said they would not call in sick for a severe cold (compared to 32 percent of office workers who were asked the same question). In Norway, a 2001 survey revealed that 80 percent of doctors had reported to work while sick with illnesses for which they would have advised their own patients to stay home. Two-thirds of these illnesses were considered contagious. (NYT)

Comments (12)

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  1. JD says:

    Maybe they know something that we don’t?

  2. Sabal says:

    “I wish there were a simple process to make it easier for doctors to call in sick so that it’s not an operational crisis every time. But it isn’t possible to have a pool of substitute doctors the way we have substitute teachers.”

    This is probably a big part of it. I know that I am less willing to take off, when it hurts or inconveniences other people.

  3. Perry says:

    News Flash:

    Doctors are not as smart as we think we are.

  4. Buster says:

    A doctor coughing would certainly get patients out of the exam room faster.

  5. Jimbino says:

    Doctors don’t generally care much for patients. A friend is a doc who mans one of those required emergency rooms in a heart hospital that doesn’t really take emergency patients. She loves being paid for not having to deal with patients, much less sick or injured ones.

    Staying home when you are sick is like washing your hands: it does nothing for you and amounts to a 100% positive externality. For that reason, docs and nurses I know neither stay home when sick nor wash their hands if not being monitored.

    I have an EEmax booster heater in my bathroom that clicks loudly when someone turns the hot water on or off. The sad truth is that very few of my friends or acquaintances washes hands, at least not with hot water. Of course, very few of them operate or fix a catheter on me.

    In any case, you don’t want to ever be caught dead in a hospital or clinic.

  6. Floccina says:

    Could it be that we do not have enough MD’s and so the structure of MD’s as artisans rather than as service workers makes it difficult for them to take a day off? Are they also over worked?