Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Doctor Is Sick

I've been sick for the last several days. Cough, rhinorrhea, sore throat. The usual minor flu symptoms. The operating room feels more frigid than normal. I should call in sick and take a few days off. But as any doctor will tell you, it is really difficult for physicians to take time off. Being an anesthesiologist makes it a little easier to take time off, but not much. True unlike surgeons and primary docs I don't have to cancel a whole day's schedule of office patients when I take a day off. But that doesn't mean I'm not needed at work. When I request sick leave somebody else has to do the work I was scheduled to do. God forbid they cancel an OR room because the anesthesiologist calls in sick. That means another anesthesiologist who is scheduled to take a day off, either on vacation or post call, has to come back to work. This will not make you many friends in your group.

This flu that's been going around the hospital has sidelined a sizable number of other employees. By contrast the nurses, techs, and other staff seem to have no qualms about taking time off. In fact, they call in sick at the drop of a hat. On Good Friday, the OR almost had to cancel some cases because some many nurses in the Recovery Room called in "sick".

So as you can see, it is not out of a false sense of machismo that I continue to work even though I'm coughing and hacking out a tonsil behind my face mask. When doctors call in sick, the disruption to multiple lives is tangible.

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