Calling In Sick.

  1. I seldom get sick, so you know that when I do, I really am sick. I am not the kind of person who just calls off for the sniffles or calls off just to call off.

    Yesterday, I called off. My head was pounding, my whole body is still really aching, my stomach is rebelling at even the suggestion of food and my 1001 bm's are mostly water now. My temp was 99.2. Axillary.

    My ADON (acting DON) called me because it is her weekend on call. She asked me what is wrong with me and being the good soldier I am, I tell her. She was absolutely unsympathetic. She said to pull myself together. That 99.2 is not a temp. She demanded that I come into work. That I was responsible for finding coverage because I traded with someone so that they could have a weekend away with their boyfriend. I told her that if I felt I could drag myself out of bed to work that I would.

    I am still burning over that conversation. I pick up a good number of extra shifts that I really don't have to and she is FOREVER yelling at me if I am five minutes late getting off the clock. I am considering contacting the state labor board. Anyone have any similar experiences? Any suggestions?
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   TrudyRN
    I think she was upset because she had to work it, I guess.

    I also think she was totally rude to you. Just ignore her. Consider leaving, consider reporting her, consider that it's probably the same wherever you go. Just drop back on the number of extra things you do. Don't you dare work off the clock. And you are NOT required to tell your boss what ails you. Just say you are ill and that is all she has a legal right to know, as far as I know.
  4. by   rnin02
    If you are sick, you're sick. You shouldn't expose your coworkers or your patients to your illness. I hate it when supervisors act like this. They don't have the right to ask what's wrong with you, they just need to trust you if you call in sick. Personally, I'm not sure I would stay in a facility where I got yelled at for being sick once in a blue moon. If you were calling in every other week, that might be different.
  5. by   PANurseRN1
    Do you have an infection control nurse? Ask her what she thinks of someone coming in as compromised as you are?

    So you go in and work, and then a few days later other staff and pts come down with the same sx. Who do you think is going to be blamed? "Why didn't you stay home if you were so sick?"
  6. by   nurseangel47
    Hi and I can so totally relate to this issue. I have been out of work for approx. one year and as you can well imagine, desperate for that paycheck!
    I really shouldn't have chosen full time hours but did against my better judgement! I should've just started out part time and increased to extra hours as I could, physically.
    Well, after being in a rather "sterile" no, not really, but more aseptic at least than any facility you can work in as a nurse....after being at home not getting out much in the world of germs per se, I was attacked viciously by those invisible monsters of the germ world at the ltc facility and all it took was giving one LOL two suppositories (time apart in between them) for her virus and being exposed for about 10 days or so to these very germs that most of the nurses are rather immune to for me to come down with either a virus or the flu. Went to doc. He treated me as if I was coming down with the flu and also treated the virus in case that was what it was.
    Anyway...long story shorter: I called out two days even tho' I was in orientation and the DON called me on the second day and basically told me how during orientation, ESPECIALLY, it is just not good (duh, didn't know that, lady, thanks for making me feel extra extra guilty for being sick!)
    and that I'd better have a doc's excuse in hand when I come in to work on Monday...!
    I felt like a school kid being shamed over having crapped my pants in first grade or something! I have always encountered this attitude in every setting, in every situation, no matter what caused the illness/accident/whatever the reason is for calling out...
    And still to this day, meet the attitude with appalling lack of sensitivity for us in the front line trenches who cannot help but be striken with the warfare of the germs we have to fight...who isn't going to get sick esp. if your immunity is compromised from working OT, 12 hour shifts and more, you have extra physical and or mental stressors going on you're trying to deal with.
    I just think it's darned ashamed that our "leaders" in the war of nursing do not ever give us credit for the chances we do take with our very health mental and physical on all those other thousands of days and nights that we do NOT call out sick...
    No kudos there!
    I know that units have to be covered, float staff are not always readily available to be called in, numbers on the floor have to be dealt with, it's not like they can shut down a unit or anything. I know that it takes a certain number on a team to be able to take care of the patients there. I get that. I've supervised enough to know that it sux to have to find coverage.
    And I think more DON and ADON and staff developement peeps need to roll up their sleeves, get out of their office attire, take those scrubs out of mothballs, and do some floor nursing for a shift once in a while!
    The computers/meetings/generated number crunching/reports/whatever else it is that management nurses have to do every day five days a week during that handsome slot of time known as banker's hours...they should have to be backup backup call and NOT COME DOWN on us poor floor nurses when we're unable to leave our home toilets, unable to stop hurling every few hours, not well enough to work, period. We know our bodies better than anyone and know our physical limitations...
    I have gotten more than a bad taste in my mouth and on more than one occasion from this attitude of " how can you be sick enough to stay home and out of work...you're scheduled to be here, you MUST be here, no matter how badly you think you feel....!?"
    I think it stinks that other nurses in management judge us as weak or slackers because we are human and susceptable to the very things we are bombarded with and under such stressors all the time.
    I will quit ranting now. Sorry. Just very supportive of this topic. It touched a sore spot in my psyche I guess. So cyberwise, I give you the brat diet: when you are ready for intake, that is. bananas, rice, applesauce, toast.
    And gingerale, chicken broth, plain saltines, in the hours before the brat diet if that's what you want.:smiletea2:
    I hope you have less episodes of sickness per each hour that passes.
    I hope that you feel better soon. Do not let her make you feel as guilty as I have felt for being human. You couldn't help it!
    Wishes for a strong and quick recovery.
  7. by   BSNtobe2009
    BLACKBERRIES! My Mom and Grandma were both nurses and they SWORE that blackberries killed the runnies after they had been through every med in the hospital.

    When I was in college, I had one of those 24-hour stomach flu's, and I was working in a restaurant at the time. I called one of the female managers (this was a Saturday night shift...and we were always slammed), she said, "If you don't have a fever you need to come in."...she said I could take as many bathroom breaks as I needed to.

    Ok...FINE!

    I took a bottle of hand sanitizer with me to put in my apron...and within two days....half our staff was out sick...including MY BOSS!

    I never had problems calling in after that.
  8. by   rach_nc_03
    Quote from WhimsieRN
    I seldom get sick, so you know that when I do, I really am sick. I am not the kind of person who just calls off for the sniffles or calls off just to call off.

    Yesterday, I called off. My head was pounding, my whole body is still really aching, my stomach is rebelling at even the suggestion of food and my 1001 bm's are mostly water now. My temp was 99.2. Axillary.

    My ADON (acting DON) called me because it is her weekend on call. She asked me what is wrong with me and being the good soldier I am, I tell her. She was absolutely unsympathetic. She said to pull myself together. That 99.2 is not a temp. She demanded that I come into work. That I was responsible for finding coverage because I traded with someone so that they could have a weekend away with their boyfriend. I told her that if I felt I could drag myself out of bed to work that I would.

    I am still burning over that conversation. I pick up a good number of extra shifts that I really don't have to and she is FOREVER yelling at me if I am five minutes late getting off the clock. I am considering contacting the state labor board. Anyone have any similar experiences? Any suggestions?
    She's an idiot. Sick is sick. You're endangering your own health by being there, and that of your patients. And she had no business asking about details of your illness. When I started working outside of bedside care, I'd been so accustomed to 'pleading my case' with management when I called out (frequency of BMs, temp, descriptions of every symptom) that I did it automatically the first time I got sick. My supervisor said, 'um....i *really* didn't need to know that. If you're sick, you're sick. Come back when you're well enough to work.'

    Check your state labor board website and see if you have any legal footing here. I'm pretty sure the details of your illness are legally none of your business. She's on call, it's her job to get your shift covered. If she can't find anyone to come in, she has to. Too bad. That's part of her job (and I did it when I had a job where I was on-call. It sucked, but I did it.)

    You're sick regardless of how you got the shift. Do you know the policy for absences due to illness at your facility? If not, get a copy of the policy. I'd venture to guess that it doesn't say, 'anyone who calls in sick will be diagnosed over the phone by the DON, who will decide if the employee's illness is severe enough to warrant an absence.'
    Last edit by rach_nc_03 on Dec 10, '06 : Reason: typed the opposite of what my brain was trying to say- oops!
  9. by   gitterbug
    Dear Whimsie,
    I am sorry you caught the bug, I hope you feel better soon. Now, that said,
    you need to address this DON. You need to let her know you are a reliable, dependable worker and you do not feel like she appreciates your efforts. Don't volunteer for extra work for awhile, stop switching with other staff unless it is for your benefit, stop doing all of the little extra's, and do not be available for input for her benefit on matters unless they concern you and your job. She will get the message, she will not like the message, she will either shape up and start treating you better or let you know to move on.

    Never give them a reason why you are ill. I did once, gave the wrong diagnosis, had to have more time after the xrays were back, and was treated like a liar. I never forgot that, I learned to say fever was 101, diarrhea, and vomiting. That was all they needed to hear.

    Take care of yourself.
  10. by   flashpoint
    I guess I was very spoiled when I worked at the hospital...if you called in, you called in. If they couldn't find someone to cover for you, everyone just pitched in and got the job done. If census was really high or yor worked in a a spedicalty area that had a patient, management would cover. When I worked in the clinic, if a nurse called in, someone from the lab would help out, the CNA would help schedule appointments, and the PAs would help out by calling results to patients and calling in their own prescriptions.

    The job I have now, we are not given a choice. If you are sick and no one can cover for you, you come in anyway. The DON rarely if ever works the floor and when she covers a nurse shift, she calls in a med aide to do all of the meds or she just makes the CNA work alone so the med aide can do meds. Last week, I got to go in with all sorts of GI symptoms and she really didn't care. One of the other doesn't have a phone and the other one refuses to work days, so there is really no option. The agency nurses all live far away and only work their scheduled shifts...they are not able to cover PRN.

    I know management can't be there 24/7, but no one should have to work sick either. My DON is pulls a lot of "sleeper shifts" where she will come in at 1600, work until 2200 or so and then sleep until 0600 and leave at 0800. We have to have 8 hours of RN coverage every day and that is how she gets it done. Now she has 2 agency RNs to cover, but she is still doing the "sleeper shifts." Not really sure how she gets away with that.

    :angryfire :angryfire
  11. by   mom2michael
    We call into the house supervisor when we are sick and they are required to ask us why. The reason is to track trends, not only you calling in sick type of trends, but if 7 people on the same floor call in with GI issues.....they can start figuring how we all got sick and see if there is something they can do to prevent more people from getting sick.

    I LOVE calling into the house supervisor because you get no crap from them - they just say "OK, what's wrong" and "hope you feel better" and you are done. If you are off work for a specific period of time, you just tell them when you are allowed to return, the reason why you are off work until then and presto - all done. Next time you work - you bring in your note to your manager.

    Now I did used to work for Satan (aka, my manager) who forced me to come to work with a fever, N/V/D, the whole 9 yards. One of the doctors took one look at me, took my temp and sent me home to get better. He then filed a complaint against my manager with the powers that be for forcing me to come to work and infecting other staff and patients - it was great.
  12. by   rach_nc_03
    Forgot to mention that when I did staff development/employee health, I caught flack for sending sick employees home. Sorry, if you have a high fever, massive diarrhea, and have to keep running to the bathroom to puke, you don't need to work. I'd find people crouched in corners or the supply closet, trying not to faint, running temps of 101. Sorry- they need to go home. They were always shocked that I felt that way.

    This is one of my pet peeves, and hearing how you're treated there really makes my BP skyrocket.
  13. by   augigi
    After reading your other post about your facility, sounds like your management is trying to make life miserable for you. For goodness' sake, find another job. Life doesn't have to be this hard!
  14. by   BJLynn
    It's kind of ironic for me to find this thread today. I just got off the phone with my DON about an hour ago because I called in. I was prepared for her to give me crap about it, but she didn't. I told her I was sorry and her reply was, "You can't help that you are sick." I was absolutely shocked, and very pleasantly suprised. Icky old head cold anyway.

    My last job treated you like crap every time you called in. I called in twice. Once I didn't go in, but the other time my DON told me she could call in another CNA to help out, but I HAD to come in, fever or no fever. I didn't stay at that job much longer.

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