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Best strategies for handling absenteeism

Nurse Attorney   (780 Views 9 Comments)
by Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD (Advice Column) Writer Expert Verified

Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD has 30 years experience .

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Hi Lorie

What would be the best strategies for handling absenteeism?


Hello, Dealing with Absenteeism:

I am not sure if you are asking how to handle your absenteeism or as a manager.  I just had this conversation with my staff too. Absenteeism affects everyone. It can be considered patient abandonment.  Also, the rest of the staff needs to take on more too. It affects the cohesiveness of the team.

If you are absent a lot or have team members that are, I would have an open honest conversation about stress management and healthy habits and how it affects everyone else.  If your facility has a policy on absenteeism, it must be followed. I suggest getting a coach to help you with why you or your staff keep getting sick and how that can be improved.

I hope this helps.

Lorie

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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I am not totally satisfied with your answer to this question, Lorie.   It's morally wrong to "guilt trip" nurses about taking sick leave when they are truly sick or injured.   And jumping quickly to the "patient abandonment" concept is irresponsible -- simply adding fuel to the fires of those who want to abuse their staff by expecting them to work when sick/injured. 

If the hospital has not planned alternate staffing for legitimate episodes of illness/injury then SHAME ON THE HOSPITAL, not on the sick/injured nurse.

If there are staff members using the sick/injury excuse when they are not truely sick/injury -- that's another story.   But discussions and strategies regarding absenteesim should always distiguish between the legitimately ill and the fakers.

   

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It’s patient abandonment if I call out sick?  Really?!?!  I’ve worked sick. I’m slower, less efficient, more prone to errors and may pass my illness to people who cannot physically handle more illness.

So....isn’t it better than I call out?  It’s absolutely ridiculous that anyone would advocate for a nurse to work while ill. 

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Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD has 30 years experience.

11 Followers; 8 Articles; 101 Posts; 5,713 Profile Views

47 minutes ago, llg said:

I am not totally satisfied with your answer to this question, Lorie.   It's morally wrong to "guilt trip" nurses about taking sick leave when they are truly sick or injured.   And jumping quickly to the "patient abandonment" concept is irresponsible -- simply adding fuel to the fires of those who want to abuse their staff by expecting them to work when sick/injured. 

If the hospital has not planned alternate staffing for legitimate episodes of illness/injury then SHAME ON THE HOSPITAL, not on the sick/injured nurse.

If there are staff members using the sick/injury excuse when they are not truely sick/injury -- that's another story.   But discussions and strategies regarding absenteesim should always distiguish between the legitimately ill and the fakers.

   

I am sorry you feel that way.  All I can say is that the Indiana state Board of Nursing on numerous ocassions expressed their concern for nurses who have been written up or terminated for attendance, that they considered it patient abandonment.  I personally do not agree with this.  I think that working at a hospital, the stress that nurses are under and being exposed to everything is conducive to illness.  Also, it would be nice if facilities have "planned alternative staffing" but the sad reality is that many don't.

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Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD has 30 years experience.

11 Followers; 8 Articles; 101 Posts; 5,713 Profile Views

28 minutes ago, beekee said:

It’s patient abandonment if I call out sick?  Really?!?!  I’ve worked sick. I’m slower, less efficient, more prone to errors and may pass my illness to people who cannot physically handle more illness.

So....isn’t it better than I call out?  It’s absolutely ridiculous that anyone would advocate for a nurse to work while ill. 

I agree that a nurse should not work when she is contagious and I think a lot of us do because of the strict attendance rules of facilities.

 

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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So, in response to your last 2 posts, Lorie ... you agree that nurses should not be expected or forced to work when truly sick or injured.   Then why did your original post not reflect that?  Why not be an advocate for safe nursing practice and non-abusive employer policies?   Why not say that "In Indiana ..." and give the legal facts ... but then also include a mention of the importance of advocating for better policies in the name of patient and staff safety?

Nurses in leadership positions need to be an advocate for patient and staff safety ... not just act as mouthpieces for bad policy.

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7 hours ago, Lorie Brown RN, MN, JD said:

I am sorry you feel that way.  All I can say is that the Indiana state Board of Nursing on numerous ocassions expressed their concern for nurses who have been written up or terminated for attendance, that they considered it patient abandonment.  I personally do not agree with this.  I think that working at a hospital, the stress that nurses are under and being exposed to everything is conducive to illness.  Also, it would be nice if facilities have "planned alternative staffing" but the sad reality is that many don't.

I would like to see your sources.  I’ve never heard anyone consider employment issues patient abandonment. 

 

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

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12 hours ago, beekee said:

I would like to see your sources.  I’ve never heard anyone consider employment issues patient abandonment. 

 

Me, too.   I was always taught that in order for it to be considered patient abandonment, you had to have officially taken over the assignment.  If you called out sick and didn't come to work, you never accepted the assignment.   Therefore, it was never truly "your" assignment.   But obviously, I do not know the laws in all 50 states.

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Nurse SMS has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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How can I abandon someone that I never accept care on? I call BS on that one.

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