More Than Half Of Resident Doctors Report Coming In To Work Even While Sick, Study Finds

First, we learned that it was pretty common for surgical residents to have fatigue. And now, a new study shows that it may not be totally uncommon for young doctors to go in to work while sick.

A study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, of 150 resident physicians showed that more than half of them worked at least once during the past year even though they had symptoms of the flu.

Their top reasons?

More than half of them said they didn't want another colleague to have to cover for them, and they wanted to be there to care for their patients.

Twelve percent of them said that they didn't want their colleagues to think of them as "weak," and 8 percent said that they didn't want to feel like they had to repay their colleagues for covering for them.

The researchers also found that second-year residents were more likely to say that they would still come to work while sick because of their patients, compared with first-year residents. Women residents were also more likely to come to work sick because of their patients.

In addition, women were more likely to report coming to work while sick because they didn't want others to think of them as weak, the researchers found.

However, coming to work when sick can harm patients because their immune systems may already be lowered, researchers said.

"Adequate systems of coverage and occupational health guidelines should be established regarding working when ill," study researcher Dr. Vineet Arora, M.D., MAPP, associate professor of medicine and associate program director of the internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, said in a statement. "Faculty should ensure residents are taught that refraining from work while ill is the best and most professional way to ensure responsible and safe care for patients."