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More on coming to work sick

September 2015

Published in the September 2015 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

I would like to respond to “Sick doctors just won’t stay home” and “Vacation deprivation” in your August issue. We are a group of 10 employed neonatal hospitalists. But at any given time, we are at 70%, often less, because of vacations, maternity leaves, high turnover or family issues.

If a doc gets sick, he or she must make an already overworked colleague remain in-house until another physician can be brought in, which may not be possible. Unless we are very sick, many of us go to work when we probably shouldn’t, especially given our neonatal patient population.

Our ideal solution is to build a “back-up” hospitalist into the schedule to cover doctors who are away and to be available to teach our steady stream of third-year medical students.

Our problem: We have yet to convince our administration and the health care organization that owns our hospital to hire an additional full- or part-time physician, even though doing so might save money and patient morbidity in the long run. It may also reduce the turnover that stems from chronic pressure to cover shifts and come to work regardless of illness or scheduled time off.

Julie Elliott, MD

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